Estacada Area Support Our Troops Foundation is considering statue options

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Memorial designer John Neider wanted the memorial to have a peaceful feel.With about $12,000 left to go in fundraising, the Estacada Area Support Our Troops foundation hopes to hold a dedication for the completed Estacada Veterans Memorial a year from now.

At the moment, the memorial’s raised garden is bursting with blossoms in full bloom, bright flags fly high and the surfaces are spotless and inviting. The site looks pretty near complete.

Dennis Dahrens, Estacada Area Support Our Troops founder and president, explained that while the foundation is in the home stretch for completing the memorial, the group hopes to add a few more amenities.

They would like to add a bolted-down garbage can and bracketed bench, install six lamp posts and black granite for the statue base and a statue.

During the dedication of the completed Memorial in August 2014, the Estacada Garden Club will add a “blue star memorial.” A blue star symbolizes a loved one serving in the armed forces.

Board member and secretary Rita Perry explained that the foundation also hopes to increase signage for the memorial.

“Ultimately, we plan to have an electronic sign similar to the one at the Junior High School (or that is what we’ve discussed in the recent past-you know how that goes when a group starts a wish list!),” Perry wrote. “Until our funds grow, we’ve been talking tentatively about a large wood sign, perhaps 4 feet by 8 feet painted plywood on which we can post our fundraising “growth thermometer” and a calendar of upcoming events. This is all up for final discussion at this point.”

“Also, the board plans to contact the state of Oregon in regard to placing a sign along the highway directing people to the memorial,” she added.

The foundation is still deciding on what the statue will be.

Memorial designer and Estacada Area Support Our Troops board member John Nieder explained, “The only thing that I made clear about the statue was that it would not be a soldier with a backpack or a military theme, but it would be a veteran theme — that it would be like the rest of the memorial, peaceful.”

Nieder made it clear that he did not want a warlike statue.

“No cannons, no guns,” he clarified.

Dahrens explained that the foundation is considering three statues for the place of honor in the memorial.

One idea is a stainless steel infinity sign with an estimated cost of about $8,000.

Another idea is an American Eagle, also about $8,000.

Then there’s the third idea, which Dahrens and Nieder seem particularly fond of: a bronze statue of an older man kneeling with a young boy gazing upward (at the American flag in the memorial if installed there).

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Estacada Area Support Our Troops board members are considering a larger version of this marquette to install in the Veterans Memorial, but to do so would cost around $60,000. Neider said that one option is to install a bronze American eagle statue until funds could be raised for a larger version of this statue. The eagle would be moved to the raised garden in the memorial when the new statue was installed.You can see a small version of this statue on display at the Estacada Public Library.

But it would cost about $65,000 to make the full-size statue for the memorial.

Nieder described a fourth option.

“The concept was that if some time in the future we could afford Roy Swan’s statue (the older man and young boy) we could move the eagle to the raised garden area.”

A decade of planning

Dahrens got the seed for the Estacada Veterans Memorial idea 10 years ago when his buddy, John McAdoo, held a Support Our Troops Rally.

Dahrens, a Vietnam-era veteran, had received a less than warm welcome when returning home from the service.

Dahrens had served on Midway Island monitoring the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line to detect aircraft or missiles headed to the U.S. from Soviet Union during the Cold War.

He explained that at the time, U.S. civilians seemed to assume that anyone in uniform had fought in Vietnam.

“The Vietnam War was not a popular war,” Dahrens said after describing how a uniform earned you glares in bars and cafes at the time.

With a son in the Marine Corps, Dahrens had a lot of reason to want to do something to make sure veterans feel welcomed home in the present.

“The more I though about it the more I thought I got to do something about this,” he said. “That’s part of what we’re doing, making sure the people coming back know they’re welcome and we support them.”

In 2005, the Estacada Area Support Our Troops Foundation was incorporated as a nonprofit organization.

They set to work fundraising and held annual parades and rallies.

The city of Estacada allowed the foundation to use the previously unused portion of Wade Street as the site for the memorial.

Dahrens remembers the memorial started out with a solitary American flag and a little sign that explained the foundation’s intentions for the memorial.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation War and Veterans Memorial Program granted the foundation $17,070.

Nieder, a retired Air Force engineer, drew up plans for the memorial.

A peaceful site

When Nieder was considering the memorial’s design, he realized the land granted for the memorial’s use ran from Wade Street all the way up the hill to First Street.

“I realized that people would see it from above and from street level. So it had to look good from the air basically,” Nieder explained. “So when you look at it from the street the memorial is actually going up, just like the landscape.”

As he designed the memorial, Nieder kept in mind that he wanted a “friendly place, a place that felt good.”

The curved walls give visitors the sense of being enveloped.

“I wanted to give the feeling that you were in the memorial, not at it,” Nieder said.

The figure-eight sidewalk is meant to created flow to the site. Change your perspective and it’s the infinity symbol.

“That’s like it goes on forever. It stands for ‘forever’ and ‘never forget’ and that type of thinking,” he said.

Nieder carefully selected materials to provide different textures throughout the memorial.

He kept the material cost down because he “had to keep in mind the whole thing would be built with donations. I couldn’t get grandiose with design.”

Dahrens noted that visitors to the memorial have often expressed shock upon hearing the memorial’s modest budget.

The foundation has since consulted with other cities on constructing low-cost but elegant veterans memorials.

You can help

The foundation is continuing fundraising efforts to complete the memorial.

Raffle tickets may be purchased for $1 (or six for $5) at Curves and the Estacada Bargain Depot.

Donation boxes are set up at Estacada True Value Hardware, KeyBank, Estacada Liquor Store, Harmony Baking Company, NAPA Auto Parts, Hitchin Post Pizza and The Country Restaurant & Lounge.

Community members are invited to attend board meetings at 5:30 p.m., the last Tuesday of every month in the Flora Room of the Estacada Public Library.

Dahrens said he would welcome community input on the statue decision.

For more information on Estacada Area Support Our Troops, the Veterans Memorial and fundraising efforts visit or give Dahrens a call at 503-630-3403.

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