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Sep-27-2006 19:43printcomments

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

An announcement that the project will pay its own bills and require no taxpayer support should go a long way toward silencing the critics.

Afghan - Iraqi Freedom War Memorial
Photo by: Tim King

(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.”

Contractor Bill McMichael

Bill McMichael hasn't been getting much sleep lately, nor is he complaining. This former Marine and Vietnam War vet is working on the memorial seven days a week.

“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.”

Q. Madp of iraqwarheroes.org

Another supporter of the project is Q Madp, who operates the Website www.iraqwarheroes.org. The site has a place for every fallen hero from the nation's wars overseas. Madp says honoring our war dead is an issue that affects everyone.

“In one way or another, every soul here is somehow connected to the military.”

Kestersons at memorial dedication

Jim Cure of the company Advanced Technology Group, shared Madp's thoughts, “We wouldn’t have the opportunity to have businesses if we didn’t have the free country that we have and that’s why we support our troops.”

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.

Order a copy of this story! A high quality DVD version of this story is available for $25 + $5 s&h
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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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Clyde Bright October 27, 2006 10:50 am (Pacific time)

Thanks to all of you who are working on this memorial. Thank you for your time, your money, your labor, and your dreams. Though you give it to all of us,it will forever remain a part of you.


Cindy Christianson October 15, 2006 12:24 am (Pacific time)

Mrs. Kesterson~I am HONORED to have met you today at Pfc. Dean Bright's funeral service, in Sutherlin. (I'm the woman in the blue blouse, taking pic's of the Patriot Guard) This memorial is WONDERFUL, and I will definately make the trip to Salem to pay my respects. THANK YOU for all of your hard work~THANK YOU for your precious son...God Bless. (((HUGS)))


Red White and Nauseated October 5, 2006 1:47 am (Pacific time)

Jingoistic Crap! Freedom my rear end! No disrespect to the dead or their families.


Condolence October 2, 2006 11:48 am (Pacific time)

My mother accidentally died in the home and split her head open like an egg. Where is my pity party? She wasn't even looking for trouble. We all lose loved ones sometimes in horrible ways. We will all be dead soon too. No one beats the rap. Is my mother a hero for dying from something almost as stupid as the occupation of Iraq?


Albert Marnell October 2, 2006 11:37 am (Pacific time)

Dear EQ anti-Al, If you read my writings, I have said good things about people like Lela Taylor and others. You are the one that needs to learn and not take things out of context. Read about the Bilderberg, Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, British Roundtable, Club of Rome, David Rockefeller, Mike Ruppert etc. If you like being on a mainstream middle-class bandwagon, that is your problem. I am light years ahead of that junk. I feel sorry for the families and members of the deceased. I want to save more lives not waste them for the global elite. Live in Mayberry, I am sure you will be very happy there. I am talking about serious stuff not sugar-coated jingoistic garbage. Stop the killing for money, power and lies. Watch "The Truth and Lies of 9/11" on the internet. Do you have the patience or the intellect?


anti-Al October 1, 2006 11:41 pm (Pacific time)

Give it break and try to LEARN Al. Instead of ALWAYS pointing the finger,(always) give a good word once in awhile. I can see I have alot of work to do with you. (shaking head)


Albert Marnell September 29, 2006 3:53 am (Pacific time)

We should honor all those that were forced or volunteered to risk their lives to protect industrialists, global bankers and the wealth of the global elite. If you do not give your life to protect their stock and bond portfolio, who will? The super rich sure as hell won't. They have to much money to lose. "Die for the Rich and Powerful," that's my motto. And these poor people died for the what they believed was "Freedom". All war is about some form of wealth.


Debbie September 26, 2006 10:31 am (Pacific time)

Thanks for the memorials. God hasn't forgetten these brave men neither should we!


rebecca September 26, 2006 9:52 am (Pacific time)

I think it's a great thing you are doing for all of our fallen heros.Not a minute goes by that i don't think of my extended family as an army wife i too have lost great heros.i thank you for your sons ultimate sacarfice.God all our troops and keep them safr.Rebecca


Syndie Garza September 26, 2006 8:19 am (Pacific time)

Thank you Mr/Mrs Kesters from the bottom of my heart. My Son was killed in Afghanistan on 8/11/06 "Cpl Rogelio R Garza, Jr--The Memorial you Bestowed on Oregonian soil is wonderful..I just wish that we could erect one in each of our states. My Love, Thoughts and prayers are with out. "WE WILL NEVER FORGET".


Kathi September 26, 2006 12:22 am (Pacific time)

It's nice to see that people remember our fallen, and are willing to work to honor them. And it's nice to see news like this being reported. Thank you, Mr.and Mrs. Kesterson, for your son, and my condolences to you and your family. And God bless you, and all the volunteers working to make this memorial happen.


Deb September 25, 2006 7:35 pm (Pacific time)

It's great that our men and women are not forgotten. The sacrifice they have made to bestow freedom to people around the world is no small task. Thanks and God bless everyone that cares and remembers. A Vet in Texas.


Marilyn Stephenson, Richland September 25, 2006 7:14 pm (Pacific time)

There should be a memorial like this in every state plus a national memorial. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Kesters for your son, he gave his life for the freedoms all Americans enjoy, God Bless you. I encourage everyone who reads this article leave a comment to thank Mr. and Mrs. Kesters for what they are doing and for sharing their son with all of us.


Q Madp September 25, 2006 6:21 pm (Pacific time)

For project photos that I snap on occasion there, go to www.IraqWarHeroes.org/memorial.htm . Thanks to all that are helping with this project. We must not forgt those that gave their all for us all.


Lela September 25, 2006 4:53 pm (Pacific time)

This is great. Having members of my family serve in every war since World War II, having a site here in Salem to pay homage to their service is wonderful.

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