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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;

  • Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
  • Valley Times : Do You Remember?
  • The Independent : Do You Remember?

The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.

They will also be found on this page each week as well.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

Archive Page

The story behind the Peace Monument

By Barry Schrader.................................May 5, 2005

The Livermore Peace Monument once again stands majestically in Civic Center Park near the abandoned library-but this one should last a century.
The original sculpture-made from teakwood, sculpted by Don Homan in 1984-had to be "retired" last year because the wood had decayed beyond repair. But the city found funding to have a bronze replacement made, and one can't help but notice the darker, smooth bronzing-it beckons you to walk up and touch it, plus the holes make it an attractive crawl space for children.
The idea of a "monument to peace" in Livermore, a city known for its nuclear weapons laboratories, came from inside Lawrence Livermore Lab back in June 1982. A chemist named Leon Smith was dying of cancer and wrote a letter to the editor, which was published, ironically, on the day he died. His letter said in part: "In thousands of city squares throughout the country there are monuments to war. There are generals on their horses, with sabers in their hands, urging men to give up their lives. There are thousands of canons, waiting to be fired…. I have never disagreed with the objective of self defense. What I do disagree with is the continual push for overkill capacity. Knowing that the U.S. can wipe out every person on Earth ten times over does not make me feel more secure. I urge the residents of this city to give serious thought to their city square and to their aims in life, and erect a monument to peace not war."
Leon's widow Blanche pursued his last wish and carried it to the city council. The idea was endorsed by then-Mayor Dale Turner and a committee was organized to determine the most appropriate venue for a monument and how the money might be raised. But when the library park was proposed for its site the library board at first took a stand against it, concerned that it might become a rallying point for future anti-nuclear protests.
Another Lab scientist, Don Homan, came forward and offered his services. He was also a sculptor and the inspiration for this work were the hills that surround Livermore. He designed a model which portrayed that concept, two facing elements with undulating curves, meant to reflect the gently sloping contours of the hills that form the Livermore Valley. He designed the sculpture in two parts to convey the feeling that "for meaningful peace you need more than one-whether it be individuals, communities or nations." His model was endorsed by the council, despite some opposition from other local artists who felt it was too abstract.
Don kept detailed records in his journal and they show he spent 442 hours constructing the work of art in his home workshop way out Morgan Territory Road. He donated all of his time, but the citizens'committee, chaired by Celia Baker, raised about $5,000 to pay for materials. Original estimates for commissioning the artwork were as high as $80,000, so this is the best bargain the community ever got for such an impressive piece of art. And at least twice since then Don has had to do major repair work and complete refinishing due to deterioration or vandalism.
Now that the monument has been replicated by the bronze foundry, Monterey Sculpture Center of Marina, wouldn't it be nice if the city held a rededication on July 4th, exactly 21 years after the original ceremonies. There has already been a second dedication upon the occasion of the first visit by Livermore's Sister City delegation from Snezhinsk, Russia. Even before that, Don had designed a one-third scale model that he and others from Livermore delivered in person to the city's other sister city Yotsukaido, Japan. (For the record-Livermore's first sister city was Quezaltenango, Guatemala.)
Don has recently been contacted by a Knoxville, Tenn. author who is compiling a book on all the peace monuments of significance around the world and Livermore will be included.

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The history mystery question this time is: What do Delpha Chesterman, Lucille Bruskin, Judy Bryer, and Barry Bolden have in common?

The columnist can be reached via email at :

Historian2sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551

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