BANDON - The Bandon Veterans Memorial is on its way to becoming a reality.
A ground-breaking ceremony was held at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, at the site in City Park. Flags that will be flown when the memorial is completed were up and waving in the breeze under sunny skies and warm temperatures. A crowd gathered to watch the first shovel of earth moved on the project by Bill Smith, one of the founding members of the Bandon Veterans Memorial Committee. City officials, including Mayor Mary Schamehorn and City Manager Robert Mawson, members of local service clubs, VFW representatives and others who have been instrumental in bringing the idea to fruition were also present.
Local officials, VFW and American Legion representatives, along with local service club members gather for the ground-breaking ceremony on Sun…
"Today marks a special moment in our city's history as we break ground for the Bandon Veterans Memorial," said VFW Vice Commander Royce Kelley in a speech written by Kelley and Bill Smith. "No other location in Bandon could be more appropriate than right here. As we look south, we can see the ball fields where Bandon's Home Guard drilled during WWI. Looking to the north we can see The Barn, where the horses for patrolling and protecting our beaches during WWII were stabled. And looking down, upon this exact spot, we can see a concrete slab, upon which sat the barracks, the sleeping quarters for the brave men that road those horses day and night."
Kelley, on behalf of the committee, thanked the City of Bandon for designating the historic site for the purpose of building a permanent memorial to honor all Bandon-area citizens who have served the nation in times of war and peace.
Bill Smith, who has led the committee for the Bandon Veterans Memorial Project, digs the first shovel of earth during a ceremony Sunday afternoon.
Kelley also thanked the following civic clubs for their generous support of the project: Bandon American Legion Post 26, Bandon Veterans Cemetery Flag Project, Bandon Lions Club, Bandon Lodge #133 International Order of Odd Fellows, Bandon Rotary, Bandon VFW Frank C. High Medal of Honor Post 3440, and Knights of Columbus Coos Council 1261.
"Additionally, a big thank you goes to Roger Straus for writing our successful Oregon Parks and Recreation Grant, the Bandon High School student body for being our first donors, and all those businesses, families and individuals who have supported the project with their expertise, finances and words of encouragement," Kelley said.
Many of the civic clubs, businesses, families and individuals will be recognized on a donors' plaque to be permanently affixed to the memorial itself.
"It is our sincere hope that what is built here in the next few months will encourage present and future generations to pause and reflect on one of the most important foundational facts of our democracy ... Freedom is not free," Kelley said. "It was, and always will be, fought for and protected by generation after generation of men and women - men and women who are our neighbors, our friends, our mothers and fathers, and our sisters and our brothers."
Bricks are still available to purchase for the memorial. For $100, a veteran's name, branch, date of service and more can be printed and become a permanent part of the memorial.
Memorial brick forms can be picked up at the VFW, City Hall, Bandon Public Library, Bandon Historical Society Museum and in several banks and businesses. 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.
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.
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.