- The Washington Times - Monday, May 26, 2003

For decades, Baltimore’s football and baseball fans were reminded of veterans’ sacrifices each time they visited Memorial Stadium.

The brick stadium on 33rd Street towered over working-class neighborhoods of row houses for more than 50 years. The imposing structure regularly drew tens of thousands of fans to games until the late 1990s.

It fell into disuse after the Orioles and Ravens built their own stadiums, and the old structure was razed in 2001. Last year, the wall bearing the stirring inscription — “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds” — was pulled down, too.

But with the dedication yesterday of a new memorial at Camden Yards, the tradition of honoring veterans at the stadium will resume.

“We’re at a time where we have to honor those who served and those who continue to serve,” said Col.Erwin A. Burtnick, commander of the Jewish War Veterans in Maryland and a member of the Maryland Veterans Commission.

Visually, the new Veterans Memorial makes an immediate connection to Memorial Stadium by reusing the tall, burnished stainless-steel letters that hung on the facade of Memorial Stadium. The letters are set into a polished, dark-gray, curved granite wall.

While the inscription on Memorial Stadium evoked a bold emotion, the smaller scale of the Veterans Memorial creates a more personal experience for the visitor.

“The reuse of the actual letters strengthened the design,” said Michael Bollinger, president of CSD Architects of Baltimore. He led the team that designed the new memorial.

“We would never have reached [the satisfying result] without the letters,” he said. “There is a grandness that we’ve got there because of them.”

An urn holding earth from military cemeteries around the world was brought to the new site from Memorial Stadium, where it rested in a niche near a little-used formal entrance, Mr. Burtnick said.

“It wasn’t visible to most people who came into the stadium,” he said.

The urn is now more accessible, set in a clear, weatherproof case on the left side of the wall.

Because of the city’s sentimental connection to Memorial Stadium, some criticized the project as a memorial to the stadium rather than to veterans, but Mr. Bollinger disagrees.

“It wasn’t intended to be a memorial to a memorial,” he said. “I can see the similarities, but we were really focusing on a memorial for the veterans.”

The Veterans Memorial renews the appreciation expressed at the stadium when it was built in 1949. But unlike the older structure, its existence isn’t dependent on the life of a building, and its meaning can’t be lost.

“Before, there was a dedication on a building. This is a memorial that stands by itself,” Mr. Burtnick said.

The Maryland Stadium Authority broke ground on the $775,000 project in September and completed it this spring. With its location near one of the entrances to Oriole Park, millions of people will see it every year, said Edward Cline, deputy director of the authority.

“It looks nice in the daytime, but at night it really jumps out at you,” Mr. Burtnick said.

“I was there on the Friday after opening day, so I walked down to see it at night. It was very interesting to see people getting wet in the rain while stopping to look at it.”

The scope of the new memorial is broader. The people of Baltimore dedicated Memorial Stadium to the veterans of World Wars I and II and built it in the heart of a city neighborhood. The new memorial is a gift from the people of Maryland to veterans of all wars and is just off Interstate 95.

While honoring those who served the country, the memorial draws a connection between the city’s history and the present. It incorporates the story of two new stadiums and the demolition of an old one, Mr. Bollinger said.

“It should be part of the two new stadiums,” he said. “It makes sense.”

It also brings the sentiment up to date, Mr. Cline said.

“This makes current the dedication that the city originally placed at 33rd Street,” he said.

“Clearly there have been a lot of veterans since Memorial Stadium was dedicated. This is just an appreciation for all veterans. Hopefully this is one that will last forever.”

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