The Madras Elks Lodge will be turned into a USO canteen, with live 1940s-era music and decorations on Aug. 10, during a public fundraiser for Oregon’s World War II Memorial, to be built in Salem.

The Oregon World War II Memorial Foundation is trying to raise $1.2 million to construct a memorial and is asking the public for donations. So, far the foundation has raised about a third of that amount.

Oregon is one of only six states that do not have a memorial dedicated to state residents who died in World War II. The names of over 3,700 Oregonians who died in combat during World War II will be etched on the walls of the monument, and it will also honor the 30,000 Oregon veterans of that war who survive today.

The memorial will feature a five-sided granite obelisk standing 33 feet high, because Oregon is the 33rd state in the union. It is believed it will be the only five-sided obelisk in the nation. The memorial will be built in a 75-by-75-foot area in Wilson Park in Salem.

Beneath the obelisk will be a world map with markers for major battles and theaters of operation. Stations around the map will have interactive features that the public can access using a smartphone to get information about the battles.

“So, it will be like a living monument with history,” said Mike Lapin, Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler. For more information on the memorial, visit

Billed as a “USO Tour,” the Elks’ fundraiser will feature entertainment by the Blonde Divas from Portland, singing 1940s-era music.

“There will also be light refreshments from that era, like Spam sandwiches, and drinks available to purchase,” Lapin said, adding, “We also hope to get a big band to come for the opening act.

Tickets will not be sold for the USO Tour, but admission will be by donation at the door. The Madras Elks Lodge is located at 262 S.W. Second St., Madras.

“We’re hoping to get World War II veterans to come,” Lapin said, noting it would be a fun time for them.

The Blonde Divas

The Dixies, now known as the Blonde Divas, was formed in 2008 when sisters Dixie Lu Sims and Nancy Emmerich, both of Oregon, found Dixie Jo Henson, who was born in the South.  They adopted Dixie Jo as their soul sister and the group was off and running singing “oldies”  from the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. 

The trio has performed in Nashville, Seattle, Las Vegas, at a Portland Trailblazers game, at the Oregon State Fair and many county fairs, the Oregon Wine and Food Festival, Bite of Oregon, as the Andrews Sisters at the Red Wind Casino, and many other engagements over the past four years.

Recently they have been writing and recording original material which will be available on a CD.

“We are just having a lot of fun with our songs, poking fun and laughing at life,” said Emmerich.

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