Veterans' memorial standing tall

The climax of 14 months effort by the Buckley Arts Commission, volunteers and donors arrived at 11 a.m. Saturday as workers raised a pole honoring American veterans.

The totem is located on the Foothills Trail near River Avenue and consists of an 850-year-old log topped by a hand-carved eagle statue. The statue was carved from three pieces of western red cedar by wood sculptor Jason Smathers. It has a wingspan of 13 feet, weighs about 100 pounds and is colored by a combination of oil paint and torching.

Workers raised the log at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and subsequently spent several hours ensuring it was level with the ground before fastening the wooden eagle on top from a crane lift.

Smathers was set to begin carving an American flag and the word “Veterans” into the log Monday, and will continue to do so during the next few weeks.

The totem is the first project by Bob Olson as the city’s arts commissioner.

“This is a big thing, and I can’t think of anybody in this region with a wooden structure this big honoring veterans,” Olson said.

The totem is a monument – not a memorial – and honors anyone who has served in any war, alive or dead, he said.

After the body of the monument is carved, the next step for the project will be to acquire rocks representing each branch of the American military, as well as bricks with the individual names of veterans. The current plan is to mortar the bricks into walls for each branch of veterans rather than into a walking path, as was originally planned.

The Buckley Arts Commission continues to accept donations to the project, which can be made out at the Multipurpose Center on 811 Main St.

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