Every so often a Bend citizen comes up with an idea that he or she feels will benefit the community and sets about their task quietly and effectively. They work the system the right way not making demands or braying in the press but with civility, working in an organized fashion making sure that the most minor details are taken care of properly. Too often when these individual's work is done their goal accomplished, they are forgotten. Such, I hope, won't be the case with Dick Tobiason. Tobiason's has long had the dream of veteran's memorial in Bend. As he's pointed out often, Bend lost a great number of men particularly in World War II. The town has also lost servicemen in every conflict from World War I to the present day engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Over the past several years, Tobiason worked with the City of Bend on getting the Newport Avenue Bridge dedicated as the Veteran's Memorial Bridge. The dedication took place on Veteran's Day November 11, 2007. That would be Tobiason, his wife and fellow vets who put the flags up along the bridge on all major holidays.
The Veteran's Bridge was just step one, an important one to be sure, in Tobiason's on his way to his ultimate goal. Diligently working the back channels, he built support for the memorial project speaking to service clubs and organizations, to individuals, and in fact anyone who would listen to his pitch. A pitch that was as sincere as was Tobiason’s enthusiasm for his project. It was, as people and groups soon found out, hard to turn Tobiason down.
Getting the veteran's memorial situated near that Veterans Bridge took time and months of work with the Bend Metro Park and Recreation District. Along the way, the project also gained scope as the names of first responders killed in the line of duty would also be added to the plaques that will form part of the memorial,
This past spring, Tobiason's tireless work led to Parks approving the construction of a veteran’s memorial in Brooks Park pending public input. Public meetings completed, work on the memorial started in earnest two weeks ago. Every day, Tobiason is out checking on its progress.
Bend’s Veterans memorial will be dedicated on Veterans Day November 11. The cost to create it will be covered by both cash and in-kind donations. And while I'm sure that during the dedication ceremonies that Dick Tobiason will come in for much praise, my hope is he wont be forgotten in the future for his unceasing work on this project. It’s a job well done.
Ironically Tobiason's work is not done. He's already at work trying to get sections of Oregon's State Highways dedicated as veteran's memorial highways. Knowing him as I have come to over the past four years and knowing how he works, he'll achieve that goal as well.