City of Oakley collecting funds for veterans memorial

By ROWENA COETSEE | Contra Costa Times | Published: November 29, 2012

OAKLEY -- Warriors young and old will be honored with a veterans memorial the city is planning to erect with help from the project's supporters.

The collection of small towers will be at Norcross Lane and Main Street, city property that was designated as a site for a future monument of some kind, said Mayor Kevin Romick.

The cement slab there has remained bare since the construction of City Hall finished in 2007, he said.

Romick got the ball rolling after conversations with local war veterans led him to the manager of a local cemetery and, in turn, to a company that specializes in building monuments.

"I was tired of going to other cities to celebrate all these (Veterans Day) events," he said. "I thought it was time to start our own tradition."

Oakley, which held its first Veterans Day observances this month, doesn't have a cemetery where residents can honor those who have served in the military, so Romick thought a memorial would be the next best option.

He asked veterans groups for their ideas on what the structure should look like, and a Hayward company that designs and creates commemorative markers incorporated those suggestions into an artist's rendering.

The structure will comprise five red granite columns arranged in a circle, each representing a branch of the military and bearing its emblem.

An American flag will be mounted on a blue granite base in the center, and the monument also will include a white

marble "Victory Eagle" similar to the one that once stood on the edge of town.

Although Oakley's ended up being one of only a handful in the country, the bronze sculptures of a bald eagle protecting her young with wings outstretched were intended to mark every county line from New York City to San Francisco along the so-called Victory Highway that was built to commemorate those who fought in World War I.

The monument in Oakley was dedicated in 1926 at Bridgehead Road and Main Street near the Contra Costa and Sacramento County line.

The eagle was moved to a spot near the entrance to Antioch's fairgrounds when construction of Antioch Bridge began in 1976, however, and Oakley never recovered the memorial.

Now the plan is to create another with private donations covering the estimated $60,000 price tag.

Individuals can honor a loved one by buying bricks engraved with up to 15 characters for $125 or donate a bench for $3,000.

Romick said he'll be purchasing a couple of bricks, one commemorating his father who was drafted into the Navy during World War II. A second will be in memory of his grandfather, a Croatian immigrant who served his adopted country in China, the Philippines and Guam as a U.S. Marine.

The hope is to have the memorial installed by Memorial Day or Veterans Day next year, he said.



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