SALEM, Ore. — The state of Oregon officially broke ground Wednesday on a long-awaited memorial project to honor its World War II fighters.
Veterans, state officials and the general public gathered at Wilson Park for the official groundbreaking ceremony.
And while it’s only the beginning, many say they’re looking forward to the completion, when Oregonians will finally have a place to commemorate the more than 150,000 people who served, as well as the nearly 4,000 who died during that time.
Wednesday also marked the 68th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France.
It also marks the first move for a World War II memorial in the state capital. For many vets, this honor is long overdue.
“It’s wonderful. I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s about time. It’s about time, yeah. It’s where it needs to be. We thought maybe they’d forget us altogether,” said Marv Doty and Frank Passmore.
But they weren’t forgotten.
Jim Willis’ with the Oregon Department of Veteran Affairs says his father best summed up the reason for the wait:
“The last thing in the minds of these World War II veterans was a memorial. They wanted to get on with their lives, and that’s exactly what they did, and we are all better for it,” Sillis said.
But now, 68 years later, everyone agreed it was definitely time.
“We’re proud to have been a part of the service and proud to be back home to represent the veterans who cannot be here with us,” Doty said.
They decided the grounds of Oregon’s capitol were the perfect place to pay homage to those who fought to keep our freedoms.
“Oregon is one of six states that has no memorial recognizing the service of our World War II veterans. I think it’s very fitting that the memorial be built on the state capitol grounds–the heart of the state of Oregon,” said Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown.
The memorial is expected to cost about $1.5 million, and as of right now the project has only raised just over $130,000. They hope to complete the project by Veterans Day of this year.
The memorial is to be funded privately. If you would like to make a donation, visit the website.