Ceremony set for holiday at war hero memorial site

Monday's Memorial Day observance will mean a little more than linen sales and barbecue dinners for at least one city and a slew of veterans, politicians and local citizens.

Ground will be broken for the Oregon Fallen War Heroes Memorial during a special observance at 1 p.m. Monday at the soon-to-be constructed Don Jones Park along Hamrick Road in Central Point.

Speeches will be given by U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, project founder and longtime resident Marty Terrell and Oregon Medal of Honor Recipient Bob Maxwell.

Maxwell, serving as a technician fifth grade in the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in World War II, was awarded the nation's highest honor for his bravery in using his body to protect fellow soldiers from an enemy hand-grenade.

Also scheduled for the ceremony is a flag ceremony by local Boy Scouts, the National Anthem sung by 13-year-old Alissa Lewis, and "America the Beautiful" sung by Stephanie Hirche.

While state Rep. Dennis Richardson said he would enjoy Monday's groundbreaking as a veteran and one of many project coordinators, he said he was especially excited to bring a project of regional significance to his own home turf.

The longtime city resident has been working with project founder Terrell, who initiated the project last year in honor of Oregon veterans dating back to the Vietnam War.

To date, Richardson said $125,000 has been raised "a couple bricks at a time" via community contributions and through a $64,000 state Parks and Recreation grant with some $95,000 in funding yet to raise.

Upon completion, slated for Veteran's Day this year, the quarter-acre memorial will be circular in design, with individual monuments honoring each branch of the military service on the edges of the circle.

The names of Oregon's 4,000 "fallen heroes" from every war since statehood in 1859 will be inscribed on the monuments. In the center there will be a pedestal displaying a pair of bronze American Eagles, plus an inner-ring of flags — one for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard, and Merchant Marines.

A lighted American flag will also stand at the heart of the memorial and a surrounding courtyard of flags will be paved with memorial bricks engraved with names of fallen heroes.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.

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