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Oct-20-2006 15:47printcomments

War Memorial in Salem Coming Together

Q Madp has been traveling to Salem from Portland throughout the construction period to document the war tribute's creation.

War memorial in Salem, Oregon
All photos by: Q Madp

(SALEM) - The Afghan-Iraqi War Memorial on Summer Street in Salem is progressing toward its November completion date. The memorial is the result of the efforts of Clay and MJ Kesterson whose son Erik Kesterson, an Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot, was shot down and killed while fighting in Iraq in 2003.

Workers constructing Afghan-Iraqi war memorial in SalemThe family initially approached the Oregon Legislature and the state agreed to contribute $100,000 toward the project. But immense volunteer efforts prevented the need for that money and now the team is under the direction of local contractor Bill McMichael, a family friend of the Kesterson’s.

Another Kesterson family friend is artist Jane Honbeck, who came up with the drawings. After conception, McMichael went to work along with a wealth of other local contractors and volunteers and began creating the tribute to all of those who have died in the wars overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Base of war memorial in Salem, OregonAs the memorial has progressed from one stage to the next, Q Madp of has been there to document the unique project. He graciously allowed us to use these photos along with a few more, to show the progress that has occurred up to date.

The design consists of an oval pool with constantly moving water. It is lined with a stainless-steel map of the world and an 8-foot bronze figure of a soldier down on one knee over the United States, with an arm outstretched.

Bill McMichael says an extraordinary effort has been required to bring everything together. He credits the many local companies who donated time, material and money to the project not to mention the skilled work teams that performed the myriad jobs necessary to drive the tribute toward completion.

Concrete being poured for War MemorialVolunteers have been in high gear for the last several weeks as the Afghan-Iraq War Memorial has gone into seven-day a week mode. Craftsmen from many industries have come together on the project, and the most recent rush has been teams of concrete volunteers who brought in the material that will give the construction project it’s final strength and it’s finishing touches.

A recent LA Times article criticized the effort as being too ahead of schedule, and for involving taxpayer funds. But Bill McMichael says that is not a concern, as their fundraising efforts have raised enough to totally offset the need for the state resources, so none will be used. "We feel very good about that, this is a project for Oregonians, by Oregonians.

Wide shot of base of war memorial in SalemWorld War Two veterans can attest to the time span that is sometimes required for a memorial or tribute to be built, for them it was a 60-year wait. Vietnam Veterans often talk about the healing powers of the Vietnam Wall in Washington D.C. or the travelling Vietnam Wall that frequently makes it's way around the United States.

The Kestersons say waiting is not always the right thing to do. They talk about the power of such a tribute for Gold Star families like themselves.

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War Memorial is a Seven Day a Week Effort (VIDEO)

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