Veterans Day was observed around San Diego County Friday with a parade, opera and dedication of a 30-foot-tall bell tower at the Miramar National Cemetery.
The $400,000 tower and carillon was largely paid for by Korean War veteran and San Diego-area car dealer Bob Baker, who contributed $250,000. Supervisor Bill Horn, a Marine veteran, contributed $78,000 from his county office fund, according to the Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation.
The tower, which sits on a grassy knoll where it will be visible across most of the cemetery grounds, honors those who fought in the bloody 1953 Battle of Outpost Harry, in which U.S., Greek and South Korean soldiers held off an onslaught of Chinese fighters.
Baker, now 84, previously financed a documentary film about the battle, in which the soldiers were ordered to hold their position at all costs. More than 100 allied servicemen were killed at Outpost Harry, and an additional 550 or so wounded, according to accounts of the battle.
“Our foundation is very appreciative of the support we have had from our major donors — Bob Baker and Supervisor Bill Horn — and from all those who contributed to the project over many months,” said Dennis Schoville, the support foundation president and CEO. “We worked closely with the VA and National Cemetery Administration to develop what we believe will be a lasting memorial to our Korean War veterans, and to all those veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country.”
A 250-pound, 24-inch diameter, custom-cast bronze bell that can be rung electronically hangs from the center of the tower. The structure also includes a Sonata electronic chamber carillon that plays “Taps” and other musical selections appropriate for veterans cemeteries.
A plaque located beneath the tower reads: “This tower stands as a lasting tribute to all American veterans and to the valiant defenders of Outpost Harry. And to our honored dead who have paid the ultimate price to preserve the freedoms of this great Republic.”
The plaque that describes the battle will be installed on the pedestal at a later date, according to the foundation.
Veterans Day also serves as opening night for the multimedia opera “Soldier Songs,” created by the contemporary composer David T. Little, whose West Coast premiere will be at 7 p.m. at the Balboa Theatre.
The production charts the changing perceptions on warfare of a character as he moves through three stages in life — childhood when he plays war games, young adulthood in which he serves in the military, and as a senior when he is wiser and more reflective.
“Soldier Songs” will also be performed Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at the theater, 868 Fourth Ave.
— City News Service
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