Living Memorial Sculpture Garden
In the summer of 1987, Ric A. Delugo, an artist and Vietnam vet, envisioned a living memorial to Vietnam veterans: a dedicated forest grove consisting of more than 58,000 trees, one planted for each American service person killed in the Vietnam War. He explained his idea to a friend, John Sutter of the United States Forest Service, who became instrumental in presenting the idea to the USFS, and helped guide the project through the bureaucratic process.
Over time, the concept expanded from the Vietnam War to include a broader understanding of War, and its effects upon all human beings caught up in the process.
As the concept further evolved, Delugo's vision included the installation of a series of metal sculptures beginning with the "Why?" group. To help him in this creation, he spent weeks tracking down an old friend and artist, Dennis Smith, a Marine veteran of Vietnam, who had a talent for making large steel sculptures of expressive grace. Dennis had been contemplating a similar vision. Together, they joined forces for the project.
In 1988, Dennis arrived in Siskiyou County with $6 in his pocket. At first, all Ric could offer Dennis was a place to live and food. But as time passed, they began getting small donations, enough to buy materials and tools needed to move the project forward.
The Living Memorial Sculpture Garden started with the acquisition of 136 acres of U.S. Forest Service land, about 13 miles north of Weed, CA on Hwy 97. Soon, the idea took hold within the Siskiyou County community, and beyond. Many people came forward to donate their time and labor, as well as make generous financial contributions for the creation of the garden.
More than 90,000 trees were planted by families, elementary and high school children, agriculture classes, church groups, 4H clubs, as well as members of organizations such as C.A.T.T.L.E., and Veterans groups, such 41st Division VFW, the American Legion, and AMVETS . The Garden's trees were provided by the United States Forest Service.
Living Memorial Sculpture Garden is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media