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Longtime monument will soon be relocated in Beaverton's Veterans Memorial Park.

TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Fred Meyer, adjutant of the Beaverton American Legion Post No. 124, speaks with people gathered to celebrate the relocation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to Beaverton's Veterans Memorial Park.Beaverton’s Vietnam War Memorial honors those who didn’t make it home alive from the controversial war.

Now the memorial itself — the first one like it in America — is coming home.

This week, a construction crew broke ground on a base that will house the granite slabs engraved with hundreds of names at Beaverton's Veterans Memorial Park, where the local family that originally spearheaded the memorial project had wanted them located in the first place.

“We wanted it visible and accessible to all the people that lost somebody,” said Don Janigian, whose older brother Richard died in the war at age 20, just 10 days before he was to complete his tour of duty. “I feel really good about this (relocation).”

Janigian’s parents, who have since passed away, used part of their late son’s government-paid life insurance to help fund the memorial as a tribute not just to him but to all Oregonians who lost their lives in the war. Gov. Tom McCall dedicated the memorial in June 1968.

At that time, anti-war sentiment was raging and officials feared that placing the memorial in a public park in the center of the city would invite trouble.

TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - As veterans chat, ceremonial shovels lean against a large tree at Beaverton's Veterans Memorial Park.So Beaverton Elks Lodge members stepped up to host the memorial, which features more than 700 names of those known to have perished or were missing in action in the war by the early 1970s (some names were added later to the monument through the end of the war).

And there, at the Elks Lodge, is where it remained for the better part of half a century, until late last year when the Elks sold much of their property to downsize into a new lodge building.

The American Legion’s Beaverton Post No. 124 and its affiliated nonprofit corporation, which already manages the city’s war monuments, volunteered to take charge of restoring and relocating the Vietnam War Memorial. Don Janigian, who was 17 when his brother died, is one of the people helping to clean up the monument before it is mounted on the new fixture before Memorial Day.

“This memorial is finally coming home,” said Jerry Jones Jr., president of Lanphere Construction & Development, which — with the help of subcontractors — offered to complete the $120,000 project for half that amount.

Jones also is a board member for the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation Department, which manages the city-owned park located at the intersection of Southwest Watson Avenue and Seventh Street.

The Legion-affiliated Beaverton Veterans Memorial Management Corporation quickly raised the remaining $60,000 relocation cost through a $35,000 grant from the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department, another gift from Shilo Inns and a number of smaller donations, said Fred Meyer, adjutant (administrator) of the local VFW post and general manager of the nonprofit corporation.

Mounted on a single flat space at the Elks Lodge, the memorial's granite pieces will be affixed to a two-sided concrete base in the park. A sidewalk near the Seventh Street end of the park will flow around the monument, which will be lighted at night.

“It should be quite a nice memorial,” said Meyer, himself a Vietnam War-era veteran. “There’s a lot of people that have a certain amount of compassion for the Vietnam era.”

“It just gives us a visible representation of what people sacrificed,” Lacey Beaty, a military veteran who serves on the Beaverton City Council, said after taking part with veterans and community leaders in a ceremonial ground-breaking Monday that preceded the beginning of construction work.

“Vietnam veterans got treated so badly on their return,” Beaty said. “If this is one step in repairing that, I’m glad to be a part of it.”

“We’re really proud of this park,” Mayor Denny Doyle said. “It’s becoming a true heart for the community.”

A formal rededication ceremony is being planned for June 9, exactly 48 years after its first dedication.

TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Officials wielded ceremonial shovels before heavy equipment did the actual dirty work this week. Included in the front row are Jerry Jones Jr. of Lanphere Construction & Development, Washington County Commissioner Dick Schouton, American Legion Post No. 24 Adjutant Fred Meyer, Mayor Denny Doyle, Councilor Lisa Beaty and J.R. Rutan, the project manager for Lanphere. Other guests included members of the Janigian family, whose parents started the memorial project after their son died in Vietnam.

By Eric Apalategui
Beaverton Reporter
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