Thursday, October 05, 2006

A special bond

Cal Poly’s weekend tribute to the 1960 football team helped bring peace and closure to the survivors, friends and family members who were devastated by the Toledo plane crash that killed 18 of their own 46 years ago.
For Norman Gomes, a Cal Poly Hall of Fame wrestler who was friends with many of the players, the recently unveiled Mustang Memorial Plaza symbolizes the “special bond” that took place between those lost, those who survived and those who carry on their legacy.
It also shows Cal Poly’s commitment to remembering this unforgettable part of the university’s history, he said.
“A survivor stood with a family (member) of each deceased during the unveiling and many were shocked to find that many of the survivors harbored guilt over the years for having survived while some did not,” Gomes wrote in a recent e-mail.
The unveiling took place Sept. 29 at the new entrance to Alex G. Spanos Stadium and Mustang Memorial Field, a few hours before the entire team was inducted into the university’s athletic Hall of Fame.
Last Saturday, Mustang Memorial Plaza was unveiled to the public for the first time.
The 15,000-square-foot plaza is built around Roy Harris’ bronze mustang sculpture entitled “Unbridled Spirit.” The statue is the centerpiece of a permanent memorial that includes 18 pillars dedicated to each of the 16 players, booster and team manager who died in the crash.
The copper pillars, which display granite plaques engraved with photos and biographies of each individual, puts off a soft beam of light that can seen throughout the stadium on game nights.
“The Cal Poly families came together,” Gomes concludes, “and as the solar lights on the monuments light up each evening there is peace in the 1960s family.”

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