Saturday, August 12, 2006

Ted is missing the point

I don't know if this is election year posturing by Ted or if its merely showing sentiment to families who've lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this is a really bad decision:

With final construction drawings and excavation for the new Afghan-Iraqi Freedom War Memorial just weeks away, the state's most noted architects are objecting to the memorial's scale and quality.

But their efforts to reopen the process aren't getting any traction with the state.

"The project is going forward," says Gov. Ted Kulongoski's spokesman Lonn Hoklin. "The governor is very supportive of having a memorial to these veterans on the Capitol grounds. The Legislature looked at the artistic concept and approved it without a dissenting vote. That's very hard -- impossible -- to ignore."

The parents of slain Army Warrant Officer Erik Kesterson conceived the memorial: a 40-foot-wide fountain with a map of the world, from which will rise a kneeling soldier, hand outstretched, rotating back and forth as the countries of Afghanistan and Iraq glow.

The Kestersons have raised private money for the project. In June 2005, Kulongoski turned the first ceremonial shovel of dirt, and the Legislature unanimously approved $100,000 for the memorial a year ago.

But now the architects are objecting to the proposal for several reasons.

We "could find no redeeming feature in this assemblage which conspires to upstage the other monuments on the Mall to Oregonians who have given their lives in past conflicts," said a letter to the governor from the state's highest-ranking fellows of the American Institute of Architects. "It would be a serious disrespect to all of their memories to allow (the memorial) to proceed."

There are monuments to World War I, the Spanish-American War, Medal of Honor recipients, the Korean War and Veterans of Foreign Wars on the mall now -- each a traditional statue or obelisk.

The architects contend the Afghan-Iraqi memorial will upstage and diminish the importance of the other memorials. They urged the state to follow long-standing design regulations governing new buildings, artworks and memorials to the mall -- none of which were applied to the new memorial.

Its not a good idea to erect memorials to fallen soldiers when we're still in the thick of the conflict. Obviously feelings are running exceptionally high. Its understandable that folks might want to build a large and ornate memorial to honor their dead loved ones who were lost doing their duty. But those feelings and needs shouldn't be allowed to eclipse those who we honor from the past as well.

The governor needs to listen to these architects.

I had no idea that this memorial was underway. I'm a very engaged person when it comes to the news, especially locally. If I was caught unaware there must be a lot of other Oregonians who don't know about this either. There's been a poor job of notifying the public about this monument. It seems like this thing is being ram-rodded through without giving the general citizenry opportunity to offer our opinions and ideas.

Its commendable that this monument is paid for with private donations. But it will be resting on public land. We should have a say.

It seems to me that the memorial should wait for a few years until after this conflict is behind us. But if people just can't wait..then they need to have respect for the the other memorials in the mall. While we can certainly appreciate the sacrifice of those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, its of no more weight (in my opinion) than World War 2, Vietnam, the Civil War, etc.

Its wrong to set up a memorial that makes it look that way.