Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tulsa's War Memorial History

As I noted in the previous post, the War Memorial we had been wondering about turned out to be a temporary one.  On the same day I posted that, I received more information from another volunteer who had been in contact with the research people at the library.  Their research supplied us with even more information.

Even before WWII the VFW had presented plans to the park board for a memorial that had included a rotunda on which the names of all men who served would have been preserved and a museum of war relics.  The boards objection was that the maintenance cost would be too great.  

The temporary memorial was dedicated July 4, 1944 and became a shrine for relatives of soldiers who had died in war, almost constantly decorated with flowers.  It was never meant to be permanent, the feeling being that no permanent memorial should take form until soldiers returned home and could make their desires known.  

The day after WWII officially ended, the VFW honored the dead at the temporary shrine beginning in the morning and highlighted by ceremonies and religious services throughout the day.  A large white and orchid wreath was put on the steps and as the bugler began the beautiful notes of 'Taps' there wasn't a dry eye anywhere.   

The next day, Tulsa Post 577 VFW announced that plans were nearly completed for a permanent memorial in Boulder park, with plans being drawn up by architect Leon Senter.  The temporary memorial was deteriorating, marring it's beauty and reverence. 

More than two years later it was announced that the permanent memorial would be built and that it would be funded by school children, business men, civic leaders, employes and others.  "The new memorial will cost exactly what is contributed by those who feel we should honor the Tulsa county dead of WWI and WWII" said a committee member.  

Brochures were distributed to all school children and thousands of citizens.  These leaflets, along with the the planning, fundraising and newspaper accounts were all archived.  A 72-page history was written and placed in a copper box that was sealed and placed behind the granite panels of the memorial in a niche.  The memorial was officially dedicated in 1954.

This is the memorial today:

Several smaller plaques and memorials have been added over time to the area.  

This is the Freedom Tree:

I'm pretty sure I saw a memorial for the Civil War veterans here before.  Perhaps it was here- looks like something was:

This monument stands in front:

It was during a renovation of the memorial in 1985 (which is also when the above monument was added) that the mysterious copper box was discovered. The history author, Leslie Lon Scott, noted, "It may be decades hence before the copper box is opened and by then none of us who participated in the campaign will be living," 
Scott's wife, however, was around.

This leaves just one more unsolved mystery that the nice folks at the library are working on.  The newspaper reported that in the box was a partial list of donors from February 1948 and November 1950 and that the plan was to store a complete list of givers in the public library.  No list has been found and I'm wondering where that copper box is.  Was it reburied?

Therefore, I must add:  to be continued.

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