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Sep-27-2006 19:43TweetFollow @OregonNews
War Memorial is a Seven Day a Week Effort (VIDEO)Tim King Salem-News.com
An announcement that the project will pay its own bills and require no taxpayer support should go a long way toward silencing the critics.
(SALEM) - It may not look like much right now, but a war memorial under construction on Summer Street in Salem for troops lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, is close to the hearts of many in Oregon’s capitol city.
Clay and M.J. Kesterson lost a son in Iraq. Erik Kesterson was an Army Blackhawk pilot who was shot down in 2003. This tribute is their healing.
M.J. Kesterson says volunteer work and donations have been the order of the day for this project. There is little rest and a great deal of progress being made. She says it is all because of the generous donation of time and labor by people who support their effort.
“These men that are volunteering right now, most of them are veterans from a previous conflict. And if they’re not here physically doing the labor they’ve financially supported this memorial, all the way from the WWII guys and up.”
Behind every work of art is an artist. Jane Honbeck, a friend of the Kesterson’s, came up with the drawings, Then another old friend of the family, Contractor Bill McMichael, said he would take it from start to finish.
M.J. says it makes all the difference, “My husband and I not only have a personal friend involved in the project, we have a skilled person who is orchestrating all of this.”
“I’ve been on this project from day one; I personally designed the project, the original artist’s conception of the project was done by a lady over by Dallas. I just took the ball from there to make sure that it turned from a portrait into a project.”
“He has sold the project from day one," said M.J. "Without Bill McMichael we would never be at the finish date. He’s just been amazing.”
The drive these volunteers have shown will bring an unexpected bonus that should silence the project’s critics says McMichael, the project's contractor, “We had a meeting yesterday and it looks like all of the project is being donated by Oregonians. Even thought the state stepped up and donated 100k for the project, we’re going to probably not use it. And the reason why is we’re determined to get it done by Oregonians, because this memorial belongs to Oregonians.”
“In one way or another, every soul here is somehow connected to the military.”
Madp says we need to keep our eye on the bigger picture, “It’s easy to bash our men and women because of maybe one or two bad apples, you find those in churches too, but it’s so hard for them to remember all the things they do for us.“
These crews will now be working seven days a week as they enter the big push to bring the project to fruition this November.
They hope people express honor and respect for it.
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This article and video news report were originally published in Salem-News.com September 24th 2006 at 11:43 PM.
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