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Jun-06-2014 05:10printcomments

To Honor 70th Anniversary of D-Day, Oregon Opens WWII Memorial

It is estimated that nearly one million WWII veterans are still living, including more than 17,000 in Oregon.

WWII memorial
The final touches are done to the Oregon World War II Memorial on the grounds of the State Capitol. Photo Courtesy: Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs

(SALEM, Ore. ) - Today marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion at Normandy. Fittingly, it is the day that the Greatest Generation will receive a long overdue honor at the dedication of the Oregon World War II Memorial on the grounds of the State Capitol at 1:30 p.m.

World War II veterans who fought and died in every theater of battle, and those people who served on the home front, will be honored and remembered during the dedication in Willson Park, on the corner of Cottage and Court Street.

The dedication ceremony will include guest speakers Gov. John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown, former state representative and WWII bomber pilot Bill Markham, and Oregon's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Dan Hokanson.

Following some vintage military aircraft flyovers, a ceremonial transfer of the memorial from the foundation to the state of Oregon, a ribbon cutting will conclude the dedication.

"We want our World War II veterans and those on the home front to be the first to see their memorial," said World War II Memorial Foundation chair, Lou Jaffe. "Our goal from day one has been for this memorial to forever be a reminder of the Oregonians who served both at home and abroad during the war.

"This memorial will not only honor that war's veterans, but educate young people so they'll always honor and remember those who fought and died in the war during what was probably our nation's finest hour when we came together in unity."

Jaffe also said constructing this memorial is long past due as most World War II veterans are now in their nineties. Until now, Oregon has been one of only six states in the U.S. without a WWII memorial to honor its veterans. In 2011, then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski and the Oregon Legislature formalized a task force and foundation, authorizing it to build an official memorial in Salem.

The Veterans Administration now estimates that over 500 veterans are passing away daily. It is estimated that nearly one million WWII veterans are still living, including more than 17,000 in Oregon.

The Oregon WWII Memorial covers a 75 by 75 foot area at the northwest corner of the capital grounds. At its center is a 33-foot-high obelisk, denoting Oregon as the 33rd state in the union. It is partially surrounded by two black granite walls that bear the names of the more than 3,770 Oregonians who gave their lives while serving in combat. Most of the memorial's stone floor is made up of "pavers" inscribed with a global map. There are two granite benches featured inside the memorial.

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