WWII Memorial erected
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WWII Memorial erected

Project organized by group of alumni

by Lauren Viera

To Bill Warren, OC '48 and chair of the War Memorial sponsoring committee, the new World War II Memorial aside Finney Chapel represents more than an aesthetic addition to Oberlin's landscape architecture . The memorial finished construction just in time for commencement and makes an important addition to Oberlin's array of historic monuments.

Warren is one of 10 alums, all of which graduated in the years just after the war, who formed a committee two years ago at the War Years Reunion to start funding for such a monument. "The basic idea for the memorial is that we didn't want these people to be forgotten," Warren said.

Several in the reunion knew OC grads who were lost in the war and felt it was only appropriate to do something about keeping their memories alive. "We all came back and finished our lives," Warren said, "but those others did not. Our motivation is that they not be forgotten." In addition to deciding to build the memorial, the committee made sure to raise money to maintain it and provide further funds for related scholarships.

"The College has been very helpful throughout the whole process," Warren said. After the committee proposed the idea in 1995, plans were made to raise money and an architect was sought out.

"We had to have the money in the hand before the College could grant us the go-ahead," Warren said. In July of '96, the committee presented their financial plans to the College and the search for a designer and contractor shortly followed. The groundbreaking for the memorial took place last commencement, on May 25.

In addition to paying homage to the 75 OC grad and non-grad casualties, the memorial was designed to complement the Romanesque architecture of Finney and the Cox Administration Building, bordering the memorial. Of the memorial's aesthetics, Warren said, "It does what we wanted it to do. [The committee] likes the design that the architect came up with."

According to Warren, the committee and the architect worked together to come up with an appropriate design for displaying the names. Instead of a standard list format like most memorials, Warren said that the group preferred the idea of three groups of names. The exact location of the monument, too, had to be appropriate to convey the right message. "We wanted a fairly central location that people would pass through," Warren said, "but that would also be a little set off from main traffic; somewhere that would encourage reflection."

Warren had the chance to see the completed memorial for the first time last week and said that he feels it has accomplished what he and the War Memorial sponsoring committee set out to do two years ago. He said, "[Through the memorial], we want people to realize that there were that many casualties and that that is the cost of war."

Remembering World War TwoThe College recently finished erecting a memorial between Finney and Cox (photo by Stina Rudden)


Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 125, Number 25, May 23, 1997

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