Dream of Veterans Memorial getting closer to reality
The Norman Transcript
Transcript Staff Writer
Don Schulenberg was looking for a hero.
He's found plenty in his quest to build the Cleveland County Veterans Memorial in the southwest corner of Reaves Park. Schulenberg just needs a few more for the dream of a memorial to honor area veterans to begin coming true.
The American Legion state membership chairman and Norman resident has talked to everyone who will listen to promote building the memorial. It's planned to honor Cleveland County's veterans who have served the United States in war and peace and those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedom enjoyed by every American.
Schulenberg and Roy Hamilton told Norman Kiwanis Club members Tuesday that about $200,000 has been raised toward building the memorial, with about $50,000 left to be raised to get started. The memorial is estimated to total about $350,000 according to the City of Norman's Web site at www.NormanOK.gov.
Schulenberg has found heroes like Norman actor James Garner, who was the first draftee from Oklahoma into the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict. While in Korea, Garner was wounded twice and awarded two purple hearts.
Garner has supported the project with his own funds to help honor other veterans as well.
Hundreds of others have contributed funds and even profits from the Moore Bingo facility have helped.
And for all Schulenberg's contributor heroes who have written checks to move the project closer to reality, it's America's military heroes -- its veterans -- that he most wants to honor.
"We want the sacrifices the veterans have made to never be forgotten, and this memorial will honor their names for generations to come," Schulenberg said last year.
The concept for the Cleveland County Veterans Memorial was created by Norman engineer Bob Goins and Marine veteran Clarence Powell and designed by the architectural team of Rick McKinney, Nathan Coffey, Toni Bragg and Bryan Rainbow of the McKinney Architects Partnership.
"We are just trying to provide a space and a palette where they can include all the men and women from as far back as they can go, as far back as they have records," McKinney said.
The concept was to create a five-faceted granite and bronze sculpture.
"And they've settled on this wonderful eagle with an American flag and it's on an about 11-foot high pylon that's a five-sided pentagon. And it refers to the five branches of our service," McKinney said. "There are sloped granite walls around the perimeter. The plaza itself is a large blue-and-white star out of pavers. And the pylon is in the middle with the eagle in the middle."
Veterans who were killed in action or missing in action starting with World War I will be listed on the center pylon in the center of a five-pointed star about 30 feet across. The plaza as a whole will be about 45 feet in diameter and will be constructed in the first phase.
The names of other veterans in wars will be on smaller monoliths that form a wall around the plaza. Forty-six smaller stars will represent Oklahoma as the 46th state of the United States.
It will be sited in the southwest corner of Reaves Park.
"We've worked it among the big oak trees and it sets in that grassy area very nicely. And it will be fully accessible with parking for handicapped and there will be monuments and introductory plaques that will describe the process," McKinney said. "There will be some very large flags that will be illuminated. The whole plaza will be lit up at night 24/7 and it won't go dark. ... It's coming together very nicely."
Tax-deductible donations may be sent to Cleveland County Veterans Memorial, P.O. Box 249, Norman OK 73070, in the form of checks, money orders or cashiers checks. Checks may be made payable to the Norman Parks Foundation, Inc. a 501 (c)3 not-for-profit organization, noting CCVM in the memo section.
Applications to nominate honorably discharged veterans or those who were killed or went missing in the performance of their duty for inclusion on the memorial may be downloaded at the City of Norman's Web site at www.normanok.gov/parks/veterans_memorial.htm. Veterans should have lived or served in Cleveland County. Qualifying documents are requested to review, which could include assignment orders discharge orders, decoration or award orders or other documents to verify service.
For more information, call Schulenberg at 364-7258 or 615-7813.