Fort Ord in California has been designated a national monument after President Barack Obama signed an order on Friday, April 20. The site has been the home of 1.7 million United States soldiers.
Fort Ord is located in the California wilderness, and Obama's order now protects 15,000 acres surrounding the Fort. Although it has not housed soldiers for several years, it is still a special site for many people. The land is open to hikers and bikers throughout California.
"This national monument will not only protect one of the crown jewels of California's coast, but will also honor the heroism and dedication of men and women who served our nation and fought in the major conflicts of the 20th century," President Obama said in a statement.
"The protection of our natural and cultural heritage is essential to providing people with an opportunity to experience the outdoors," said Brian O'Donnell, executive director of the Conservation Lands Foundation. "It is great to see the administration take this action."
During the Vietnam War, Fort Ord served as a crucial training base after being opened in 1917. It was shut down in 1994, and people have used the area recreationally ever since.
"That national monument designation, it really is a national and international brand in its own right. It really will enhance tourism here," Mayor Dennis Donohue said.
Fort Ord is the second military base to receive national recognition by President Obama. In November, Fort Monroe in Virginia was designated a national monument for its role in the nation's slave history. According to reports, Fort Monroe was where Dutch traders first brought enslaved Africans in 1619.
Fort Monroe was initially founded in 1607 but not fully used until 1619 by the United States Army. It was named after President James Monroe and eventually became a site for slaves seeking freedom.
On September 15, 2011, the fort was officially closed, and in November, Obama signed a proclamation naming it a national monument.