BANDON - The idea for a Bandon Veterans Memorial began several years ago when a few Bandon residents, after attending the dedication for the Myrtle Point Veterans Memorial, wondered why Bandon didn't do something similar.
Now, Bandon will do just that.
"Over the years, we have asked around and found that many others have had similar thoughts," said Bill Smith, a member of the Bandon Veterans Memorial Committee, which consists of representatives of the VFW, American Legion, Lions Club and City of Bandon.
Eventually, a meeting was called in 2016 and held at the VFW Hall. It was well-attended and a plan was set in motion.
In recent months, a small planning group has been holding monthly meetings and has reached a point where they feel comfortable presenting their ideas to different organizations.
The Veterans Memorial will be sited on city property in City Park, where the Blue Star Memorial Highway memorial is now located, just south of the Bandon Community Center. The design will consist of engraved bricks with names of those memorialized cemented to a 6-foot wall behind the Blue Star Memorial, utilizing and extending the current platform. Seven flags will be flown on the wall, representing each branch of service.
Memorial bricks will help pay for the structure, and grants and donations are also being sought.
At the March Bandon City Council meeting, Smith made a presentation, with others from the Veteans Memorial Committee in the audience.
"As you can see, the site out at the City Park is already a memorial of sorts," Smith said. "We feel that expanding it to include all Bandon veterans will bring even more attention to what already exists."
A design has been completed, though some of the smaller details may still change, and the group hopes to dedicate the new memorial by this coming Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
Smith said many memorials around the country go far beyond what the local group is planning.
"It is not our intention to construct something that overwhelms the simplicity of our beautiful City Park and its historical background," Smith told the council.
At one point, Bandon High School drafting students were asked to come up with ideas for the present site. After reviewing those submissions, the Veterans Memorial Committee combined several aspects of each design and further refined the plan to its current design.
"Something honorable, but not overly elaborate," Smith said.
In the meantime, as the word about the memorial idea gets out, the committee continues to receive more support and positive feedback. For the past two years, the committee has received monetary donations from Stephanie Murphy's English class at BHS. Those students took part in helping with the annual group veterans photo in the school gym, meeting and greeting local veterans and making cards for or interviewing them.
"We have been most grateful for those donations," Smith said.
People involved in the Myrtle Point and Curry County veterans memorials have also been helpful by sharing detailed information about their work. Contractors, suppliers and local civic organizations and service clubs have expressd interest in helping get the memorial built.
"These are a few examples of input that makes our process that much easier," Smith said.
Anyone who would like to memorialize a Bandon-area veteran, living or dead, can now purchase a brick for that purpose, which will be used as part of the overall Bandon Veterans Memorial design.
Bricks, which will be 3 5/8 inches by 7 5/8 inches and 1/2 inch thick can be purchased for $100 each and can include three lines with 20 characters each. There are many choices available as far as text, including dates of service, particular career fields, units, awards and geographical areas of service, foreign or domestic and more.
People can purchase bricks for veterans who, for whatever reason, no longer have relatives in the Bandon area. These might include local veterans going back as far as the Civil War, whose names are on a list at the Bandon Historical Society.
The Veterans Memorial Committee will order and install the bricks and the revenues collected will be applied toward the construction and ongoing maintenance of the memorial. The bricks are intended for men and women, including those of the Air Force, Army Coast Guard, Marines, Merchant Marines, Navy and the state and national guards and reservists who have honorably served the United States during times of war and peace.
At this time, local veterans who have, at one time or another in their lives, been a resident of the Bandon area (meaning they had a Bandon address) are eligible for a brick. Since mailing addresses and other official boundaries have changed over time, there may be an occasion when a Bandon resident has had an official address of a nearby community but actually attended Bandon scools or were "generally considered" by the overall Bandon community to be be Bandon citizens.
The Veterans Memorial Committee reserves the right to render a final decision as to the qualifications of the applicant.
"We and many others in the community feel this is a proper and worthwhile project," Smith said.
Members of the City Council agreed.
To donate, make checks out to the Memorial Donation Account and drop them off or mail them to the Bandon VFW, P.O. Box 992, Bandon, OR 97411. Memorial brick forms can be picked up at the VFW, City Hall, Bandon Library, and Bandon Historical Society Museum. Donations of at least $500 and above will get the donor's name, organization or service club name memorialized on a donor area of the wall.
The Veterans Memorial group meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the VFW Hall on Bates Road and those interested are welcome to attend.