Local helping promote WWII memorial
The privately funded memorial will honor the 3,757 Oregonians who died in World War II, the 150,000 other Oregonians who saw military service during the period and the hundreds of thousands who supported the war effort in some way on the home front.
“It’s going to be great,” said Joanne DeWitt of McMinnville. “I’m just so excited about this.”
She has a personal stake in seeing the memorial completed, as her husband, Leonard DeWitt, is a World War II veteran. In fact, he’s featured in a nine-minute promotional video posted on the Oregon WWII Memorial Foundation website at www.oregonwwiimemorial.com.
The first speaker in the video, DeWitt describes how he joined the Oregon National Guard in 1939 because he “wanted to get in the military so bad I could taste it.”
During WWII, he served as a lieutenant colonel in the Army. In another segment of the video, he describes losing his whole platoon.
The video features several other veterans, including former Gov. Vic Atiyeh, and supporters such as Dick Withnell, a Linfield College trustee.
Lou Jaffe, president of the nonprofit foundation, notes that Oregon has tributes to World War I, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, but no statewide memorial honoring the men and women of WWII. He said Oregon is one of only six states without a WWII memorial.
Joanne DeWitt said it’s time Oregon had its own.
WWII veterans, who fought 70 years ago, are aging and dying. Oregonians need to show them respect while they’re still around, she said.
“I think this memorial is something everyone should push for,” she said.
The 75-foot by 75-foot memorial will be erected in Wilson Park, on the northeast corner of the Capitol grounds.
It will feature a 33-foot tall, five-sided obelisk flanked on two sides by low granite walls carved with the names of the fallen. A world map and QR codes will give visitors more information.
The obelisk and walls are being carved in Hillsboro. Foundation members hope to have the whole memorial finished in time for dedication in September.
They are continuing to raise funds via the website and through donation cards DeWitt and other volunteers are distributing. For more information, check the foundation’s website or call DeWitt at 503-474-9321.