GOLD BEACH andndash; Dozens of Curry County military veterans, their families and friends gathered at the Port of Gold Beach on Wednesday to break ground for the Curry County Veterans Memorial.

"This is a remarkable day in our lives," Sam Vitale, chairman of the Curry County Veterans Memorial Association board of directors said at the ceremony. "We have waited three years for this day. Today is the beginning of our Memorial."

The morning ceremony was the first of many observations of Independence Day.

"July 4th 1776 is the birth of America. The board members chose this

day, July 4th, to do our groundbreaking ceremony," Vitale said.

"The memorial is dedicated to those who have served in the past and now.

Let's not forget about those serving today and those that will serve in

the future," Vitale said. "Also our peace officers and firefighters who

put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe."

Vitale introduced current and former board members, as well as others

who have contributed to the memorial, being built between the Nor'Wester

Restaurant and the fish cleaning station at the port.

On display was a new sign showing where the memorial is being

constructed. That sign, which includes a drawing of the memorial,

replaces one that blew away during one of the area's winter storms.

"I am grateful to be part of the Curry County Veterans Memorial," Vitale

said. "We, the board, are looking forward to making this a reality. To

all that served, I will always be honored and proud to be one of you. To

the friends I lost, I will never forget."

Board members then began the groundbreaking by turning a shovel of dirt. All veterans were also welcome to come forward and turn a shovel of dirt.

"Thank you all for coming and hope to see you at our dedication, which is planned for this Nov. 11," Vitale said.

He says the fund-raising for the Memorial has been going well.

"The whole county is behind it," Vitale said. "To meet our grant, we need to raise $10,000-$15,000. We will depend on our grant for 80 percent. We're close."

Vitale said that Susan Brown, Curry County's former director of Economic Development, is writing the grant.

"We hope to get it from Parks and Recreation from the state of Oregon," Vitale said. "We're also working on another grant."

Vitale said the organization has an architect and engineer working on the design on the memorial, which has changed somewhat from the plan from a year ago.

"We have a contractor involved," he said. "We have just changed some of the things. We had a hard time manufacturing it ourselves, so we went to professionals to have them build it for us."