Cleveland County memorial unveiled

Tuesday, November 11th 2008, 7:36 pm
By: News 9

By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

NORMAN, Okla. -- Cleveland County has produced thousands of veterans over the years--but there was no place where their contributions were honored, until Tuesday.

The Cleveland County Veterans Memorial is a dream no longer, and the sculptor couldn't be prouder.

"You see the eagle draping the flag on the five-sided obelisk, representing all five services," sculptor Shan Gray said.

But raising the $350,000 needed for the monument was a long and sometimes frustrating experience.

"I started off selling yard signs at Wal-Mart, then I sold magnets," Don Schlenberg with the CCVM Committee said. "I talked to every rotary club in Norman, I talked to churches, I talked to schools."

Then Navy veteran Bob Summers heard Schulenberg's appeal.

"He was mentioning this memorial thing here and I said, ‘Well, I'll contribute the first $500 and the last $500," Summers said.

Now, Summers and other veterans can look up their names on the monument.

The memorial sits on land that half a century ago was part of an active U.S. Navy base. Older Norman residents remember.

"You could go downtown in Norman, just like San Diego or anything else, and all you could see was a layer of white on top and then navy blue beneath it," Summers said.

Those days are gone, but the names of those Cleveland County veterans and their contributions to freedom now have a permanent home.

"To see the veterans out here trying to find their names, this is a dream that has come true; it's fantastic," Schulenberg said.

Currently the Cleveland County Veterans Memorial contains just over 1,000 names. That number is expected to grow.