Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

History

May 21, 2006

USS Oklahoma memorial plans announced

Friday was a long time coming for Ed Vezey, a Pearl Harbor survivor who was aboard the USS Oklahoma.

It was the day Gov. Brad Henry and others announced a memorial for the 429 sailors and Marines killed aboard the battleship on Dec. 7, 1941, will be constructed in Hawaii, near the site where it capsized.

“I don’t think there’s any way to convey what a great day this is for survivors,” said Vezey, who flew from his rural Colorado home to Oklahoma City for the announcement.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled Dec. 7, 2006, and a dedication is planned exactly one year later as part of Oklahoma’s centennial celebration.

The project will have a $750,000 price tag for the memorial itself and an endowment for the site’s ongoing maintenance. Henry said the state, through the Centennial Commission, will give $100,000 for the memorial and the Inasmuch Foundation pledged another $50,000.

The rest will come from people who contribute to a fundraising effort that will continue through Sept. 1.

“Tomorrow is Armed Forces Day,” Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin said Friday. “What a fitting time for Oklahomans to come together to honor the men who lost their lives on the ship named for our state.”

Architect Don Beck will design the memorial he said remains in its planning stage. Envisioning “more than a brass plaque,” Beck is “striving for a three-dimensional memorial that could speak to you.”

The memorial will cover an area on Ford Island, in Pearl Harbor, that measures approximately 150 feet by 80 feet. Beck is considering 429 aligned vertical sculptures that will include the name and rank for each person who died in the attack.

Most of the memorial’s materials will come from Oklahoma and be transported to the site. Beck hopes family and friends of those killed will donate mementos from their fallen loved ones, so those items can become part of the sculptures.

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