Part of what makes the war memorial in Riverside’s Guthrie Park so appropriate is its unobtrusiveness. When you stand among the boulders with their bronze plaques listing the name of those who died while in the service of the nation, there is a peacefulness. Even if a freight train is rumbling by 50 yards away, the memorial’s place in the park makes it special.
The reasons proposed for moving the memorial to a more prominent, visible location came from the right place. It would have made the memorial more immediately accessible. But, something – it’s hard to describe tangibly, because it’s mainly an emotional sense of place — would have changed fundamentally.
Village officials have now determined to leave the memorial in place and to handle any improvements to the memorial with a light hand. That’s appropriate.
Certainly, the boulders, particularly the large stone dedicated after World War II, could use the stability. It’s the landscaping, though, that really needs the careful attention.
One thing that hasn’t been mentioned much is the original landscaping of the memorial, which was described when the first boulders were dedicated in 1921. The year before the dedication, trees were planted as memorials to mark each boulder.
It’s not completely clear whether those trees survive today; it doesn’t look like it, though mature trees do create something of a shelter for the memorial.
Perhaps a nod to that original landscape layout could be part of the solution in Guthrie Park. It may even do more to set it apart as a special place, less attractive as a place to set down a cooler and a beer during village parties in the park.
Whatever the solution, we’re guessing a less-is-more approach will serve the memorial in the future.