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  Design Selection: Passage of Remembrance  

Project Update:

SAN FRANCISCO, March 20, 2014


San Francisco’s first Veterans Memorial is final piece in original 1920s plan for the San Francisco War Memorial Complex 

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, Mayor Edwin M. Lee joined former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and former Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. for a Public Groundbreaking Ceremony in Memorial Court for the future San Francisco Veterans Memorial.  Located between the War Memorial Opera House and Veterans Building, the site was always intended to have a memorial to those who have served our nation in uniform.

“Today we honor San Francisco Veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice by creating a sanctuary for remembrance that is worthy of their service,” said Mayor Lee. “I want to thank and commend the Veterans Memorial Steering Committee for raising the necessary funds to make this memorial a reality. The importance of this gift and its impact on those who have served and the community that surrounds them cannot be understated.”

"We are asking people to come together to help fulfill a promise to erect a memorial that honors the people that have protected our freedom and security. This memorial will be a symbol of gratitude for their service and for the peace we enjoy as a nation." Secretary Shultz said.

The San Francisco Veterans Memorial Project, designed by Susan Narduli and landscape architect Andrea Cochran, fulfills the mission and original 1920s vision for the San Francisco War Memorial Complex.  The Memorial Court site contains soils from battlefields around the world where Americans have fought for their country. The San Francisco Veterans Memorial Project, scheduled to be completed in late 2014, will fulfill San Francisco's 80-year promise to honor the service and sacrifice of our nation's military veterans.
The Narduli/Cochran design, entitled Passage of Remembrance, is a breathtaking series of reflection pools circumscribed by an octagon of basalt stone.  Seen from above, the pools form a circle of gently flowing water that glides over polished stone in sloping planes from the street to the garden below.  The interplay between the circle and the octagon is meant to symbolize the merging of heaven and eternity (circle) and earth (octagon).  A walkway floats above the water and takes visitors through the memorial.  The west wall of the walkway is inscribed with a poem by World War I veteran Archibald MacLeish titled “The Young Dead Soldiers do not Speak.”

About the San Francisco Veterans Memorial Project
The San Francisco Veterans Memorial Project is headed by former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, who co-chair the Veterans Memorial Steering Committee, which is raising private funds for the design, installation and maintenance of the Veterans Memorial.  The original 1920’s plans for the War Memorial Complex called for a veterans’ memorial in the Memorial Court, the landscaped area between the War Memorial Opera House and Veterans Building.
Following the Project “kick-off” in April 2010, the San Francisco Arts Commission was engaged to conduct a nationwide search for artist design teams.  Over 120 artists responded to the “Call to Artists,” and in November 2010, three finalist design teams were selected to prepare design proposals.  Final design team proposals were submitted in June 2011, and following public display, the War Memorial Board of Trustees endorsed the selection of the design by artist Susan Narduli and landscape architect Andrea Cochran.
Construction of the San Francisco Veterans Memorial is scheduled to be completed in October 2014, with dedication of the San Francisco Veterans Memorial targeted for October 10, 2014, during San Francisco’s Fleet Week.

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A Treasure Discovered

A Treasure DiscoveredSAN FRANCISCO, September 8, 2013
The San Francisco Veterans Building is part of the War Memorial Performing Arts Center across Van Ness Avenue from San Francisco City Hall. It is the mirror image of the War Memorial Opera House. On the first of July, the building was closed for 2+ years for seismic retrofitting. The building had to be completely empty for the contractors to start work. The Veterans who occupy part of the building engaged in a ‘house cleaning’ that took place for several months prior to the closing discovered, finding ‘treasures that had been there for decades.
One of those treasures was a small booklet titled:The History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion by Buck Private McClullum. It is about a World War I battle when the 308th Battalion of the 77th Division, under the command of Major Charles Whittlesey, is ordered to attack into the German lines and seize an objective in the Argonne Forest. The battalion accomplishes its mission but its two flank battalions are stymied. The Germans surround Major Whittlesey’s battalion. For 5 days the battalion fights without resupply, communicating only by carrier pigeon to its higher headquarters. Nearly 700 soldiers start the battle; but less that 170 come out of the Argonne Forest.
The little booklet is dedicated, in Pvt McCollum's own words, "… to the memory of "My Buddies" who gave their all "Up There." It includes a tribute written by Lt. Col. Whittlesey dated November 11, 1920 and is followed by the address delivered at Lt. Col. Whittlesey's Memorial Service in 1923.
It contains some humorous poems, and some very touching rhymes about the hell of war. One such poem is reprinted below:


Oh! To get away from it all,
Those war-ridden thots, that come,
To blind forever those memories,
And the sound of the bullets’ hum.

To live once more, as I did before,
In Peace and quiet and rest;
To just forget for a little while,
That it took from my life the best.

At night, when all is quiet,
And I’m lying alone in bed,
There comes a vision of battlefields,
The fight, the maimed and the dead.

Will I never forget that hell “Over There,”
And the tales the battlefields tell,
Of the price my “Buddies” paid with “their all,
And the place in which they fell?


And there’s my two best “buddies”
I can see them plain as can be,
A layin’ “Out There” crumpled heaps,
And seems like they’re calling to me.

I can hear the big ‘uns screech and scream,
As they go flying o’er my head,
They seem to say, both night and day,
“Remember the dead—the dead”

And sometimes I think, as I sit alone,
Perhaps it might have been best,
If I too, had paid that great price,
And were out there now with the rest.

Oh! Those war cursed thots,
That haunt me night and day;
Dear God, Be merciful,
And take them forever away.

Read the history of "The Lost Battatlion">>

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Latest News:

  • Why a San Franisco Veterans Memorial?
    95th Anniversary of "The Lost Battalion": Oct. 2 - 7: Follow our twitter feed today to read about the Lost Battalion's heroic five days in the Argonne forrest. Follow the Lost Battalion anniversary!
  • September 7, 2013: How the Lost Battalion was Lost. Read More>>
  • September 6, 2013: Posted: Memorial Address At Services of Lieut. Col. Charles W. Whittlesey by COL. N. K. AVERILL of the 308th Regiment. Read More >


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Welcome Introduction

The San Francisco Veterans Memorial will honor a 75-year promise to our nation’s military veterans by installing a Veterans Memorial in the Memorial Court, located between the War Memorial Veterans Building and Opera House. Landscape architect Thomas D. Church’s original 1920’s vision called for a memorial and the Veterans Memorial Steering Committee is raising private funds for its design, installation and maintenance.

San Francisco Veterans Memorial
25 Van Ness Avenue, 8th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 554-9999

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