Civic Center war memorial gets new life 

The City is marching ahead with a project to honor the nation’s veterans with a memorial conceived of 75 years ago. 

The War Memorial Complex is located across from City Hall and abuts Van Ness Avenue. Two large buildings are separated by a courtyard.

But financial constraints and apathy have kept the memorial from becoming a reality, say supporters of a new campaign to have one in place by 2013, with a formal dedication planned for Nov. 11 of that year — Veteran’s Day.

The effort could bring new popularity to the Civic Center area. Memorials can “become magnets for visitors,” said Luis Cancel, director of Cultural Affairs for the Arts Commission.

One of the reasons the effort has returned with such determination is because of current military sacrifices and the desire to honor them, Cancel said. “We have been in a state of war now for a number of years so this is very present in people’s minds.” 

The proposed memorial would be located in the Memorial Court where there is an octagonal grassy area that contains soil from the battlefields of World Wars I and II and Vietnam. The area is between the War Memorial Opera House and the Veterans Building.

The City has issued a request for teams of artists to propose memorials, with a June 25 deadline. The Memorial Board of Trustees, with advice from the Arts Commission and a public process, would make the ultimate design decision.

The request for proposals offers broad criteria for the design, but emphasizes a preference for a water feature as symbolic of spilt blood, a marker at the entryway for information about the memorial, a “serene setting where visitors can pause and reflect” and seating.

The San Francisco War Memorial Board of Trustees and the San Francisco Arts Commission will conduct a selection process for an artist and an architect to develop a proposal for a tribute to the military veterans.

The estimated $1.3 million to $2 million to pay for the project is expected to come from fundraising through the efforts of an ad hoc board.

Veteran’s Memorial Project

What: Proposes to fulfill a 75-year promise to our nation’s military veterans by building a memorial equal to the sacrifice of service.

When: Application deadline is June 25; formal dedication  Nov. 11, 2013.

Cost: $2 million estimated from private fundraising.

Who is involved: Steering committee chaired by George P. Shultz and William J. Perry, has initiated a capital campaign to raise the funds to complete this project.

Source: Arts Commission

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