Happy Valley seeks to expand veterans memorial
Happy Valley has applied for additional state grant funds to expand its memorial for veterans adjacent to City Hall with new design features further inviting contemplative reflection and community gathering.
Dedicated in August 2021, the memorial site currently represents all branches of the U.S. armed services with a custom bench, branch flag and lighted flagpole, comprising the first of multiple construction phases that project organizers originally planned, but could only partially fund due to an unexpected increase in construction costs.
$74,500 in funding for the memorial's first phase was awarded to Happy Valley in 2019 through a grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission. The city has reapplied to the commission in the hopes of receiving enough to finalize the original vision for the site — which includes an immersive space for visitors to walk in solidarity with those who have served.
Ben Bryant, assistant city manager for Happy Valley, says if awarded, the approximately $58,000 in additional grant funds would go toward installing an artistic sculpture in honor of veterans and engraving a war timeline onto the walls winding along a labyrinth in the existing plaza.
Bryant said after talks of building a veterans memorial next to City Hall began in 2016, the veteran-led team assembled to conceptualize the site envisioned engravings to incorporate the labyrinth into the memorial rather than drastically altering the park's layout.
"One of the things that people do in a labyrinth is just walk the course and kind of have some quiet reflection time," Bryant said. "Even if you're not a veteran, you can go there and just kind of be in solidarity with the veteran community and just contemplate what that means."
He added that the permanent sculpture has been proposed for the green space next to the Walk With Veterans and would be crafted by a local artist, to be selected by a task force comprised of area veterans to ensure the design is reflective of their experiences.
"Happy Valley has a long history of a rotating sculpture garden program at City Hall and we thought, 'Why don't we establish a permanent, veterans-themed sculpture right at the Veterans Memorial?'" Bryant said.
The memorial's site is strategically located halfway between the Willamette National Cemetery and Camp Withycombe, an active National Guard facility. Prior to the memorial's dedication in 2021, the nearest veterans memorial to Happy Valley was Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.
Projects receiving grant funds from the state will be notified on March 1, with work able to commence the following month. Happy Valley anticipates construction on the memorial will run from this April until May 2023.
Bryant said he views the ongoing memorial project as a chance to "honor the veterans that live and work in Happy Valley and to call attention to the sacrifices that they've made" in a space where those who aren't veterans can also learn and reflect.
"What better place to do that than in the heart of our community?" Bryant said. "Continuing to expand on the veterans memorial and make it better and more prominent is something that we look forward to the opportunity."
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