Spanish war soldiers honored

With his legs trembling and his voice shaking, David Smith, a 94-year-old veteran of the International Brigade that fought in the Spanish Civil War, made a frank admission on Thursday morning.

“I never cried the entire time I was in Spain,” said Smith, who was deployed in the war from 1937 to 1939. “But I am crying now.”

The tears flowing from Smith’s eyes were not of anguish, but of joy-the result of witnessing the groundbreaking for a new monument at Justin Herman Plaza, created to honor the American unit — dubbed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade that volunteered to fight against Franco’s fascist forces.

When finished, the monument will be comprised of 45 translucent onyx panels, outlined by steel frames. On each panel there is a side containing an etched image of American fighters, while the other side has literature quotes culled from involved artists of the movement, including Langston Hughes and Ernest Hemingway. The panels are stacked in rows of three, measuring seven feet high, and 45 feet long. The installation site is right behind the Vaillancourt Fountain on Justin Herman Plaza.

Architect Walter Hood, who designed the installation along with his partner Ann Chamberlain, said the monument will provide an apt learning tool for those who know little about the civil war that gripped Spain from 1936-1939. Smith said he is one of just 40 Americans alive today that fought in the conflict. After being motivated in large part by the labor disputes he witnessedin Detroit while a student at the University of Michigan, Smith said he volunteered for the International Brigade at the age of 22.

“There are 800 Americans still buried in Spain from the war,” said Smith. “I cannot tell you how much it means to have their memory honored.”

The proposal for the monument was first approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2000, but planning processes delayed the project eights years before it was finally given the green light. The installation will be completely finished by March 30, at which time a formal reception will be held, according to Luis Cancel, the director of cultural affairs for The City’s Arts Commission.

wreisman@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocalTransittransportation

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

School board members Gabriela Lopez (left) and Alison Collins (right) say they have been the subject of frequent hateful, racist and sexist attacks during their time on the school board. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F Examiner)
Angered by Lowell decision, SFUSD grad targets school board members with violent imagery

Facebook page depicts two women of color on board with swastikas and x-marks on their faces

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a former school board member, said it was ‘ridiculous’ that the school district did not yet have a plan to reopen. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Supervisors demand SFUSD set a timeline for reopening

Pressure grows on district to resume in-person learning as The City’s COVID-19 case count goes down

“Tenet,” the new Christopher Nolan film starring John David Washington, is showing at the drive-in in Concord. (Courtesy Warner Bros.)
Drive-ins are popping up all over the Bay Area

There are pandemic-era options for movie lovers who want to watch outdoors

The San Francisco International Arts Festival will present performances this weekend outdoors at Fort Mason, including on the Parade Ground, Eucalyptus Grove and Black Point Battery. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF International Arts Festival wins health department approval for weekend performances

Rules allow no more than 50 people at outdoor Fort Mason performances

In this handout image provided by the California Department of Corrections, convicted murderer Scott Peterson poses for a mug shot March 17, 2005 in San Quentin, California. Judge Alfred A. Delucchi sentenced Peterson to death March 16 for murdering his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn child. (California Department of Corrections via Getty Images/TNS)
Prosecutors to retry penalty phase of Scott Peterson trial

2003 discovery of Laci Peterson’s body led to sensational high-profile murder trial of husband

Most Read