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Sculptor Uribe, left out of ceremony, explains SR memorial

  • 7/3/2008: A7: GRANITE COLUMNS: Momentum for the monument began in 2003 when ex-Marine Ross Liscum began raising money and pushing for approval.

    PC: The Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Monument, Tuesday July 2, 2008.(Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)2008

Santa Rosa sculptor Mario Uribe is having a great summer. His colorful leaping trout sculpture in the fountain in Prince Greenway Park on Santa Rosa Avenue has motorists slowing down to take a good look.

And his design for the Veterans Memorial Monument at City Hall seems to have been exactly the right answer to the thorny problem of what form a war memorial takes.

It is too bad -- a crying shame, in fact -- that the committee that raised the funds for this tribute to Sonoma County war dead and staged such a fine dedication ceremony early this month neglected to introduce Uribe at the ceremony.

The several hundred people in attendance would have liked to hear from him just why the memorial sculpture looks like it does.

It's the circles, Uribe will tell you. The granite columns etched with the 448 names of those who died in 20th- and 21st-century wars embrace another column topped with a bronze, folded U.S. flag.

The folded flag, Uribe says, "is the ultimate symbol of the fallen soldier." But it's the circles that give the monument its overall theme.

Uribe: "I like to work in circles. I believe a circle has special meaning -- wholeness, completeness, healing, a very positive image.

"That's why I created a circular space and talked the committee off the idea of a pedestal with a human figure. I wanted this to be a place that was quiet and contemplative where people could come to be with the names on the columns.

"A circle is more in the realm of the spiritual than a statue is," he says.

The round granite columns are descending in size, which Uribe considers to be "a kind of prayer or hope for the future, for a lessening of war, for a need for less space for names. The smallest column has no names at all.

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