On D-Day plus 52 years, state unveils design for war shrine Glendening calls long delay 'a disgrace'

June 07, 1996|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Exactly 52 years after Capt. Maurice D. Tawes landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, the old soldier joined dozens of his comrades-in-arms in Annapolis yesterday as the state unveiled the winning design for a World War II memorial that many felt was long overdue.

Years after the state erected monuments to the veterans of the wars in Vietnam and Korea, Maryland finally was getting around to building a shrine to the veterans and others who contributed to the American victory in "the Big One."

"It's nice to be here. I want to walk up to see it," said the 81-year-old Tawes, who retired as a major general long after he fought his way across France and into Germany with the 115th Infantry of Maryland's celebrated 29th Division of the National Guard.

The design, chosen unanimously after a worldwide competition that attracted 122 entries, was submitted by Secundino "Dino" Fernandez, an architecture professor at City College of New York.

The open-air monument in Annapolis will be a diamond-shaped series of steps and ramps, enclosed by a circular Wall of History. The entrance to the monument will be marked by a luminous star honoring Maryland's role in the conflict.

Tawes is a member of the Maryland World War II Memorial Commission that approved the design. "There was no doubt. It )) was outstanding," he said. "It fits the location. It was a good location but limited in space."

The monument will be built in the median of Route 450 in a spot that faces the Governor Ritchie Memorial Overlook on the northern bank of the Severn River.

State taxpayers will contribute the bulk of the money needed to build the memorial, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 1997.

With the strong support of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., the General Assembly appropriated $300,000 in 1995 for the design and architectural work and followed up this year with $2.2 million for its construction.

Edward T. Kreiner, a World War II Navy veteran who was on the committee that chose the design, said members were looking for "solemnity, dignity, strength" and a design that recognizes the entire state's contribution to the war effort. Fernandez's submission came closest, he said, although he indicated that some modifications might be made.

Among the details to be resolved is how to work in the "ruptured duck" symbol of the war effort, Fernandez said. (World War II veterans called the eagle pin they received on discharge the "ruptured duck.") Commission members also have agreed that the memorial will include the names of the 6,454 Marylanders who died in the war.

The memorial commission was created by statute in 1991, said retired Army Brig. Gen. John Franklin Burk, its chairman.

He said the commission had made several "false starts" but finally put the project on track "with the help of God and the General Assembly."

Burk said that the project will require more money than legislators appropriated, but that the commission would try to raise the rest from private donors.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who spoke at the unveiling yesterday, said it was "a disgrace" that Maryland hadn't erected a memorial earlier to the 273,000 Marylanders who served in the war.

"I think we are righting a wrong of omission," Glendening said.

Rosalie Silber Abrams, a former state senator from Baltimore who was a Navy ensign during the war, said returning veterans weren't thinking about monuments and memorials.

"It was so much a part of our lives, we didn't think anything special needed to be done," she said.

Pub Date: 6/07/96

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