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Earthwork begins on Armed Services memorial


Parking space, monument outline take shape in Scappoose’s Veterans Park

For Ron Urban, Jerry Peal and Frank Weber, the start of construction on an armed forces monument in Scappoose Veterans Park carries a weight and significance beyond the planned installation of basalt pillars, crushed aggregate and a layer of easy-maintenance thyme for groundcover.

“I think the primary idea is if we can honor those who have served. Not only the individuals, but the families,” says Urban, 65, a Viet Nam War veteran who at times is apologetic as his fingers struggle to leaf through paperwork outlining the monument’s details, the result of recent heart-related health problems. “No soldier goes alone. The family is a part of that as well.”

Construction on the monument started two weeks ago, including the carving out of parking space off of Capt. Roger Kucera Way, just a few hundred yards in from the park entrance on JP West Road. Recognizing that wet, rainy weather could stall its completion, the city — which last year budgeted around $13,000 toward the monument’s $30,000 price tag, the remainder made up of donations — and veteran organizers are eyeing a completion date by May 18, Armed Forces Day.

The monument will be 30 feet in diameter and will have five basalt pillars — one for each branch of the armed forces, Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard — positioned within its perimeter.

Urban says he expects the monument to take a position within the community much as has occurred with the VFW memorial in Heritage Park. “People understand it’s a sacred place,” he says. “We believe that the same thing would be here.”

Urban, Peal, 71, and Weber, 88, also hope it inspires returning veterans from more recent wars, or those who have served domestically or in other international service, to reach out to the VFW. Though it has 70 members, the trio estimates only a dozen are active, with the youngest member in his 40s.

“We’re an organization that desperately needs the Afghanistan and Iraqi veterans to join to help [it] stay alive,” Peal says. “I fear for it.”

In fact, during the two years of planning for the U.S. Armed Services monument, the VFW lost two of its more active members: Forrest Viles and Cliff Kuhl.

For those interested in contributing to the monument, there is limited opportunity still available in which donors of $1,000 or more can have their name or organization permanently etched into an explanatory plaque at the memorial.

For more information or to make a donation, contact Ron Urban at 503-543-7482.