Honor vets views: Keep memorial in coliseum


Occasionally, the Portland Tribune outlines Memorial Coliseum plans. The April 15 business story, headlined 'White elephant may go shopping,' was written as fresh news, but it was a year-old, recycled plan.

And, as usual, this report reads as though the word 'memorial' is nothing more than a minor hindrance in the way of somebody's progress.

Excuse me, folks, but this building definitely is not a white elephant. Instead, it is a memorial to fallen citizens who died preserving freedoms enjoyed by the rest of us. The stories do not mention this.

The city of Portland's stance on this seems to be, 'The place has to go!' They hope we will believe their excuse for demanding changes to Memorial Coliseum: 'The building's condition is so bad, it can't be repaired economically.'

Balderdash! It would be better and cheaper to repair what we have and reinvigorate sales of the space for events. It should cost less to put it into proper condition than to prepare it for other uses. Also, who would be expected to pay for alterations needed for a 'big box' retail outlet or other uses? The taxpayer, naturally.

To date, no organization or governmental entity has discussed the fact that this building has historically made money by the ton! Unfortunately, these profits were spent elsewhere, without putting meaningful monies back into maintenance of Memorial Coliseum.

One question that citizens must ask is: 'When and where in the history of man is it written that 'dollar' should trump 'honor'?' Has honor become totally meaningless?

Many ideas for building uses have been put forth by varied interest groups, but not the veterans, the comrades of those commemorated there. Veterans' concerns have yet to be truly considered by city decision-makers.

The organization I represent is interested in preserving and enhancing all memorials to those who placed their lives on the line for liberty and protection of the country's way of life, no matter the war they fought.

Numerous names engraved outside the coliseum belong to people lost at sea or reported as missing in action. As such, this singular location where their names are visible has become the only grave marker they have.

Any plans for Memorial Coliseum that do not first consider this fact dishonor the memory of anyone who believed the possible loss of his or her life in defense of our country could be a worthwhile cause.

Veteran's Memorial Home Depot? Sorry, the name just doesn't seem right.

Harley L. Wedel lives in Fairview. He is chairman of the Veterans Action Committee. Now retired, he works part time at Mt. Hood Community College.