Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Memorial Day and D-Day pass with no mention of WWII memorial

FIVE YEARS AND COUNTING: When Victory Stadium was torn down there was no media mention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. They held a ceremony to say goodbye on that day in 2006.

The wrecking ball took its first whack at the brick wall and we all remember how it bounced off on first impact. It didn’t make a dent. Ahhh … how proud we were of her grit … but she finally gave way.

Gone, scraped up, cleaned up, planted in grass. Out of sight – out of mind.

A promise not kept

Oh, how important it was to city council then that a WWII memorial be built to replace Victory Stadium. The name “Victory” was meant to be a rallying cry for Allied victory in 1942. Roanoke City saved bricks and issued a resolution.

Not a mention of it this year. The last time I heard it mentioned was in 2009 from Rupert Cutler. I asked Cutler about it when I saw him recently and received the same answer as in his 2009 e-mail.

The answer is hollow – year after year WWII veterans slip away never to witness a memorial to them. The bricks have been saved, the armory torn down … not a whisper about it anymore.

Below was an e-mail from Cutler in November of 2009:

Roanoke City Council has provided for the construction of a substantial new memorial to honor Roanoke area veterans to be built on the site of the now-demolished Victory Stadium on the Roanoke River.

On May 15, 2006, Roanoke City Council passed a resolution directing the city manager to proceed with the demolition of Victory Stadium. That resolution included these words:

“The City Manager is hereby directed to ensure that any future use of the stadium site includes a memorial, composed of some of the original brick from the stadium, reflecting the presence and significance of the stadium, as well as memorializing Coach Bob “Guts” McClelland for whom the playing field is named.”

To that end, approximately 300 palletized bricks, or three pallets, have been saved from the demolition of Victory Stadium and securely stored at the City’s Public Works facility, to be included in the new veterans’ memorial structure.

The National Guard armory, former city parks and recreation department headquarters building, and city schools maintenance office building on Reserve Avenue will be demolished next year, clearing the way for a new city park along the river that will definitely include the fine, new monument to honor our veterans. We look forward to the day when all of you join City officials in the unveiling of that fine new veterans’ monument, in a fine new riverside city park.

UPDATE on November 11, 2009: From Dr. Cutler to timeline and funding questions:

A park design consultant [Leon Younger] has prepared plans for the new park between Reserve and the river that have been shown to Council. They seemed somewhat “over the top” to some of us in terms of water slides, etc., but the planning is underway within the context of a parks and rec master plan for the City. So we’re probably looking at a construction period during 2011-2012. Steve Buschor could tell you with more accuracy. My assumption is that the veterans’ memorial will be designed and commissioned much like the Gainsboro Library statues were, through the Arts Commission and Susan Jennings. I suppose the funds could come from the Percent for Art Fund, but Susan Jennings can give you a better perspective on that.

Roanoke City veterans deserve a monument now

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Commentary, Local Events, Politics, Roanoke City Politics

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