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San Francisco Veterans Memorial, built 8 decades late, to be dedicated

San Francisco Veterans Memorial, built 8 decades late, to be dedicated
A rendering of the San Francisco Veterans Memorial that's slated to be dedicated Friday. (Rendering by Susan Narduli)

When San Francisco built the War Memorial Opera House and Veterans Building in 1932, it was supposed to include a memorial to veterans. But the project ran out of money, and one was never made. On Friday, a nonprofit group will make good on that promise with the dedication of a new San Francisco Veterans Memorial at the site during the city's Fleet Week.

The low-profile Passage of Remembrance, as it's called, will sit between the two landmark buildings. It will feature a 30-foot-long octagon of polished basalt stone with a circular reflecting pool surrounding it, according to the memorial's website.

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There's also a bridge through the middle where visitors walk to the heart of the memorial that holds particular significance. "Within this octagon of stone, remembered earth from battlefields where Americans fought and died. Here, we bear witness to their sacrifice," it says on one wall.

The octagon reflects the landscaping that Thomas Church, who designed the Beaux Arts complex, created in 1936 with the idea that a memorial would be added later. Over the years, veterans brought and deposited dirt in the area from battlefields, starting with World War I, the website says.

Another wall of the memorial holds the words of a poem written during World War I by Archibald MacLeish called "The Young Dead Soldiers."

The dedication will be held 3 p.m. Friday in the Memorial Court at 401 Van Ness Ave. It's one of the events being held during Fleet Week, which started Monday. Other events includes a Parade of Ships on Friday and an air show featuring the Blue Angels on Saturday and Sunday.

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