A World War II memorial in Portland is now accessible to individuals with disabilities thanks to the work of the Oregon chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Reopening of the USS Oregon Memorial on Veterans Day 2013 in Portland. Assembled after the ribbon cuting are, from left, Pam and Joe VanderVeer; Commissioner Amanda Fritz; Linda McKim-Bell, City of Portland Human Rights Commission member; David Miller, Oregon Paralyzed Veterans of America Government Relations Director; Travis Herseim, Veterans of Foreign Wars Service Office, and Ryan Green. Photo courtesy of Portland Commission on Disability.
The U.S.S. Oregon War Memorial reopened on Veterans Day to include new accessible ramps and walkways in accordance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
The project was put in motion in 2011, when Army veteran and Paralyzed Veterans of America member David Miller visited the memorial to pay his respects on Memorial Day, only to discover that he could not access it. After several meetings with the Portland Commission on Disability, the city eventually approved funding for the project to move forward.
“Once I got them to see that a lot of veterans would be passing through there, especially those who had served on that battleship, that ringed a bell,” Miller said. “About a week later, they found the money to at least get the ramps and landscaping done.”
The project work includes an ADA-accessible ramp and walkways on the north and south sides of the memorial as well as some new landscaping. The project still remains incomplete, as the city plans to make additional improvements including audio cues and signage for people experiencing visual disabilities.
The Battleship Oregon Memorial was built in 1958 to honor World War II veterans. The 1893 ship was nicknamed the Bulldog of the United States Navy and fought in several famous battles before it was retired from service.
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America's work with accessible design
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.