A Chronicle of Memorial Park
The concept of creating a memorial park was first coined by a local resident in the 1940’s. The original idea appeared in the Omaha World Herald – a local newspaper. This inspired a group of community leaders to pursue the idea.
This included Robert Storz, proprietor of Storz Brewery and Henry Doorly, namesake of Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo. Following discussions, they chose a location near the University of Omaha for the memorial site. More specifically, this was in proximity to the Dundee Golf Course.
By 1948, they had accumulated sufficient funds to create a monument in Memorial Park. Even President Harry Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, paid a visit and dedicated the site to those who lost their lives in wars past.
In the late 50’s, the Omaha Rose Society made a notable contribution to the Memorial Park as well. They established a resplendent rose garden on site. The beautification of the site continued years later too.
A pedestrian bridge was constructed in 1968 overlooking Dodge Street. This was named the Memorial Park Pedestrian Bridge. Also, in 1990, Woodmen of the World made significant changes like adding flags and flagpoles along the entrance. This can be seen as visitors entered the driveway of the park.
Over the years, Memorial Park in Omaha has also been home to events of both the pleasant and unpleasant variety. For instance, it was the site of multiple anti-Vietnam war protests from young activists. This began in the 60’s and did not subside until the 70’s.
On a more favorable note, Memorial Park is used for major events like concerts. On the last Friday of the month of June, Bank of the West organizes an annual concert. Officially known as the “Bank of the West Celebrates America”, this event is a huge success.
Since the concert is held on the brink of 4th of July, it attracts a large number of people. In fact, the average attendance for the yearly concert is in excess of fifty thousand!
Since its inception in the late 80’s, Memorial Park has played host to some famous artists. For example, The Letterman, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Drifters and The Beach Boys are some of the names that have performed at the concerts held there.
More recently, 311 played to a large congregation in 2004 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Omaha. In 2010, the concert was such a hit that it attracted a record eighty thousand people.
All in all, Memorial Park is a significant part of the rich history of Omaha, Nebraska.
Continue reading about the history of Omaha here: The History of Boys Town in Omaha NE
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