Silverton’s Fallen Heroes: Memorial dedication

November 2015 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Community
Don David and his late friend Ted Demezas were the first to recognize the local men who lost their lives while serving their country.

Don David and his late friend Ted Demezas were the first to recognize the local men who lost their lives while serving their country.

By Kristine Thomas 

The foundation of the Freedom Memorial Plaza – Silverton’s Fallen Heroes began when Don David and Ted Demezas went to the Silver Falls Library to look for a book about the local men who lost their lives defending their country.

“We couldn’t find anything so we decided we would write the book,” David, 91, said.

Both Silverton-raised and educated, David and Demezas served in as U.S. Air Force pilots during World War II.

Determined to find a way to honor their friends who lost their lives in World War II, in 2001 they began searching through the Silverton Appeal, reading obituaries to find those who died serving in World War I and II, Korea and Vietnam. They discovered 44 names. Their book, “Silverton’s WWI, WWII, Korean and Vietnam War Heroes” was given to the Silverton Country Historical Society.

Skip ahead to 2012 when Silverton Country Historical Society members Ray Hunter, Norm English and Jack Hande found the book and started thinking about building a memorial. They wanted to honor every Silvertonian who had lost their life in a war.

They discovered the first Silverton casualty was Lawrence R. Van Valkenburg, who died in the Spanish-American war. Their research uncovered more than 60 Silverton-area servicemen who gave their lives. At the same time, Steve Wiley was talking with David about his book.

Freedom Memoral Dedication
Wednesday, Nov. 11, 3 p.m.
Town Square Park
Main Street, Silverton
Public invited to attend..

Soon a committee was formed to raise $85,000 for a memorial at Town Square Park, as well plan the details for granite pillars and a garden.

Now the memorial plaza is nearing completion and the five granite pillars are set to arrive Nov. 5. Committee members are looking forward to the dedication Wednesday, Nov. 11, 3 p.m. at Town Square Park on Main Street. Everyone is invited to attend.

The names of the fallen in six American wars – Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq-Afghanistan – will be listed on the monument. The center stone will be engraved with the symbols of the military services: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.

English said the first person lost his life more than 117 years ago. For many years, these men have not been honored, English added. “Now, they will be.”

Freedom Memorial Plaza Committee

Freedom Memorial Plaza Committee

David said the project was important to he and Demezas, who has passed away, because they lost many friends from Silverton during World War II, including at Pearl Harbor.

“This project has grown into something we didn’t envision,” David said. “We didn’t envision a war memorial. We just wanted to have a list of names.”

David is thankful the war memorial committee members “picked up where we left off and ran with the ball.”

The committee members included Steve Wiley, Norm English, Jack Hande, Rick Lewis, Rick Bittner, Gregg Sheesley, Steve Fetters, Greg Gossack, Phil Appleton, Aaron Cressey, Jim Loftis, John Cramer and Ray Hunter. David, who is an honorary member, is eager see the finished project.

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