May 27, 2019 - Heroes Grove Memorial Sign Setting & Dedication Ceremony - An Interview with Sal Compagno
Heroes Grove - Golden Gate Park - San Francisco
The San Francisco WW1 Commemoration Committee recently restored a large WW1 stone monument in Golden Gate Park and provided a new stone sign for the grove in which it sits to call attention to it and mark in perpetuity the monument's location. On Memorial Day, May 27, 2019, an unveiling ceremony proudly gave San Francisco its first look.
Here California WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director Bill Betten interviews fellow Co-Director Sal Compagno about the event.
By Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force
he California WW1 Centennial Task Force Managing Board consists of many special individuals from all over the state. I consider Sal Compagno not only a Co-Director, but also a friend. Recently Sal was a part of a very successful renovation project of a significant monument in Golden Gate Park. Here I interview him about the work. T
Co-Director Bill Betten: On Memorial Day, May 27, 2019, the San Francisco WW1 Commemoration Committee held a ceremony at the recently restored large stone WW1 monument in Golden Gate Park.
Who is the San Francisco WW1 Commemoration Committee and how was it that they came to be?
Co-Director Sal Compagno: The San Francisco WW1 Commemoration Committee was formed in 2016 in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the official end of WW1, Nov. 11, 1918. The Committee then, was part of the 100 American cities designated as part of the national movement honoring America's role in that conflict. There are ten members to the committee.
Bill: Sal, I understand that you are on that committee and were a part of the commemoration event. Can you tell us what happened?
Sal: The Committee performed a long-needed act. There is a large stone monument, recently restored, listing those brave local men who gave their lives in the First World War. The stone was originally dedicated in May, 1919, and 100 years later another dedication was held.
Bill: I was unaware of this monument.
Sal: That was the problem. This enormous stone was well hidden in the overgrown grasses and trees which adorn this part of the Park.
Bill: What did the restoration consist of?
Sal: The recent restoration, besides removing brush and grass, was a re-cleaning of the stone, widening the area around it, and publicizing the effort of both the Park and the San Francisco Commemoration Committee.
Bill: Do you know who laid the stone originally?
Sal: The Memorial stone, I believe, was a tribute to those local Bay Area personswho gave their lives for the nation and was commissioned by the City of San Francisco in 1919.
Bill:So if the monument was neglected, what did you do?
Sal: Prior to May 27, in April, a group of members of the Committee took a weekend to clear and define the area for public viewing. The Park, generously, made a gravel path to the stone. What was missing was a sign, Heroes Grove, indicating the direction to the stone. The Committee collected a sum to inscribe that sign and it was dedicated on May 27.
Bill: What happened that day?
Sal: A ceremony was held with a bugler and color guard and a dedication was provided by Major General Michael Myatt, USMC (Ret.). Approximately 120 were in attendance.
Bill: I understand an unanticipated surprise happened that day. What was that?
Sal: There was another unexpected addition to the dedication and that was the planting of a Redwood tree in commemoration. The Golden Gate Park's committee allowed the planting. In 1919, a Redwood tree was planted next to the stone and it was fitting that another be planted 100 years later.
Bill: Why do you say the tree was an unexpected addition to the ceremony?
Sal: In our monthly meetings when we discussed having a sign there at the Park, I suggested planting a Redwood tree as they did in 1919. Well, it wasn't considered part of the ceremony of the sign-presentation and they said the Park would not allow any planting there. As it turned out, when I arrived and participated in the laying of the sign, Heroes Grove, the leader pulled me aside and told me the Park agreed, and they provided a small Redwood tree and a place for it.
Bill: You must have been surprised.
Sal: Surprised indeed, and honored.
See more photos below:
Placement of the new stones.
The Day of the Dedication:
Planting of the Redwood:
Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force is an author and retired educator. See his biography here.