Designs revealed for veterans memorial in San Francisco's Civic Center 

Three designs were unveiled Tuesday for a proposed veterans memorial at the heart of The City’s Civic Center.

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The grassy octagon between the War Memorial Opera House and War Memorial Performing Arts Center, which contains soil from several notable battlefields, could soon feature a floating ring of shimmering dog tags, a long spillway pool punctuated by a bronze flag, or a “passage of remembrance” with reflective walls.

Roger Dong, chairman of the American Legion War Memorial Commission, said whatever design is chosen, it will not focus on a particular war. Still, it will be a stunning attraction in San Francisco, he said.

“Once the Gray Line buses start coming by this place,” Dong said, “it will be our most famous national monument.”

Major Gen. Mike Myatt, chairman of the project’s working committee, said a design will be chosen from the three finalists in July.

“If I have my way, we’re going to kick this thing off by September,” Myatt said.

The project is headed by former Secretary of State George Shultz and former Secretary of Defense William Perry. Nearly $1.8 million in private donations has already been raised for the total cost of the $2.5 million project. The funding includes $500,000 for maintenance of the monument.

Future fundraisers, including a September performance by the San Francisco Opera, will help gather the remaining money, and planners hope to have the new monument in place for a formal dedication  on Veterans Day 2012.

The project has technically been in the works since the 1920s, when landscape architect Thomas Church designed the octagon as the centerpiece for a War Memorial Complex across the street from City Hall. As originally intended, each project incorporates the octagon into its design.

In November, the San Francisco Arts Commission chose the three finalists after a nationwide call for design proposals. The proposals are on public display starting today through June 22 in the Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Ave.

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