Memorial Park in Dundee

Memorial Park aims to be a place of beauty and peace for all visitors. It uses dignified engraved markers lying flat on landscaped plots to memorialize a grave and maintains an open, beautifully natural setting for services that are less about mourning and more about life celebration.

The centerpiece is a large open green hill designed for relaxation and play. It is crowned by the memorial arch and entrance to the subterranean museum.

History of the Park

Memorial Park was built in 1983 on the Tactical Air Command parade grounds by order of Gen. Bill Creech to honor Service members who died during conflict around the world. The original concept was to create an area that was peaceful and calming, with an environment that reminded families of their loved ones.

The park includes miles of multi-use trails, a sand volleyball court and rugby and softball fields. It houses a variety of tree and plant species, including huckleberry, poison oak, ferns and redwood sorrel. Animals such as banana slugs, raccoons, woodpeckers and Steller’s jays are also found in the woods.

In addition, there is a pond, a garden and man-made water features throughout the facility. These elements create an expansive and appealing setting that sets family members at ease and invites them to begin new traditions of life celebration. Unlike conventional cemeteries, memorial parks use flat flush plaques or markers to mark the graves of Service members and rely on landscaped plots for the majority of the burial site design.

Submariners Monument

In this quiet spot overlooking the water, visitors can find a monument dedicated to the submariners who served in World War II. Fifty-two engraved stones around concrete walkways represent the submarines lost during the war and their crew members. Each stone identifies the submarine, when it was lost, who was in command, and the circumstances of its loss. In addition, the names of each submariner are listed. A large American Liberty elm tree stands behind each marker.

Although the memorial was built more than a decade ago, the markers needed repairs because of weather and vandalism. Douglas Smay, who proposed the 52 Boats Memorial, founded the non-profit organization to solicit funds from submariners and others for the repairs. He was able to have several of the markers replaced, but many still need replacements. Steven Bragia, superintendent of a construction company in the area, heard about the memorial and decided to help. He was able to have all the replacements completed quickly and for free.

Peace Statue

The white colonnade anchors the park, built on a former Dundee neighborhood golf course. It honors the 1,000 men and women from Douglas County who died in World War II. The site also holds monuments to those who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

A life-sized sculpture of a sailor kissing a nurse, which commemorates the iconic Times Square kiss from V-J Day in 1945, is a popular stop for visitors to the park. It was created by Seward Johnson and brought to the park last April. It will remain on display through November.

Visitors to the park are also encouraged to leave paper cranes near the statue. The origami tradition grew from a story of Sadako Sasaki, who was ill with radiation-induced leukemia at the time of the bombing and hoped to fold one thousand cranes. Thousands of visitors have left origami cranes around the memorial, and some even from far-away places like Australia and Sweden.

Vietnam War Monument

The Vietnam War Memorial, dedicated in 1982, is a powerful tribute to America’s courage and sacrifice in a divisive war. Its black granite walls are inscribed with the names of Americans killed or missing in action during the war. The names appear in chronological order. Guidebooks are available at the entrances to help visitors find specific names.

Near the wall is a statue of three servicemen, known as The Three Servicemen, who gaze at the names of their fallen comrades on The Wall. Another memorial, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, honors the contributions of military and civilian women who served in-country during the conflict. While barred from combat, many women volunteered in medical services and other support roles.

The park’s open, naturally beautiful setting reflects its purpose to provide an environment for services that are less about mourning and more about life celebration. It is also designed to encourage families to create new traditions of family gatherings.

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