Granite Company Honors WWII Vets
by Christine Louie
t's a memorial impressive enough for the nation's capital, but for area World War II veterans, there's no better place for it than in the Bay Area.
After five months and nearly 600 hours of labor, workers at Colma's V. Fontana & Company, a granite fabrication company, are putting the finishing touches on a 20-foot by 10-foot granite monument honoring veterans of World War II.
It is the largest World War II memorial in the state and the first honoring the war's veterans in the Bay Area.
On Wednesday, the 14,000-pound monument, capped with a 4-foot-tall bronze eagle, will be taken to the Marin County civic Center, where it will be unveiled on Memorial Day. It will be placed between two existing war memorials -- a 16-foot World War I monument and a 1-foot monument honoring veterans of the Vietnam and Korean Wars.
Area World War II veterans say the monument's dedication is long overdue, and cited nearby memorials commemo-
rating veterans of other wars.
"The war has been over for 50 years, and we've not had a veterans monument," said Frank Keaton, who served as a combat medic in the 30th Infantry Division.
Keaton, 88, said he and a group of other area veterans decided to raise money for the first World War II memorial in the Bay Area after repeated talks to build one "never materialized."
"There hasn't been any (veterans) groups that would put the time and effort into it, but it's always been a thought that we sould someday have one built."
Mort Tallen, 82, agreed that "it's about time" a memorial was erected to honor World War II vets.
Tallen served as a photo interpreter in the 75th Infantry Division, examining pictures taken beyond enemy lines for potential targets.
Under the leadership of Erma Parsons, whose husband served in the 101st Airborne Infantry Division, the
group raised $75,000 for construction costs.
Mark Fontana, a spokesperson for V. Fontana & Company, said the monument commends all World War II veterans and that it "includes everybody by excluding nobody."
Keaton said the monument honors all who served, especially those in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps.
I'm not any more of a hero than any of those who served," he said. "The real heroes of World War II are those that gave the ultimate sacrifice of their life."