February 15, 2013
Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors
4th District Supervisor Peter Adam511 East Lakeside Pkwy, Suite 47
Santa Maria, CA 93455
Re: “A Tribute to the Protectors of Freedom” a California Department of Transportation Art Program project by the American Legion Post 534,
Dear Supervisor Adam,
I am asking for your support of the Old Town Orcutt Veterans Recognition Project - “A Tribute to the Protectors of Freedom”. This community project is located across the street from the on-ramp to Vandenberg Air Force Base. Many active duty military and Veterans pass by this area daily and will greatly appreciate this symbol of gratitude from our community.
This is a California Department of Transportation Art Program project. The Transportation Art Program provides a way for the California Department of Transportation to permit enhancement of existing transportation facilities with local communities and artists within the State right-of-way, through the encroachment permit process.
This is a privately funded project sponsored by the Old Town Orcutt America Legion Post 534. Transportation art located within the California Department of Transportation’s right-of-way is considered a benefit to the people of California and will become property of the State.
California Department of Transportation policy supports and encourages the concept of enriching the cultural and visual environment of transportation system users and local communities by facilitating and coordinating the placement of artwork by others. Transportation Art may include graphic or sculptural artwork, either freestanding or placed on required engineering features that expresses something special about a community’s history, resources or character.
This project is a collaboration between the California Department of Transportation, the County of Santa Barbara and the American Legion. It will enhance and reflect the aesthetic, environmental, scenic, and cultural values of Orcutt, California, meeting the goals and expectations of both the local community and the public-at-large.
The California Department of Transportation Art Program policy allows that the name, identifying logo, or symbol of the artist, local agency, and/or financial sponsor may be placed on or adjacent to the transportation art and is not considered to be “text.”
In negotiations for this Veterans’ recognition project the California Department of Transportation headquarters will allow the names of Veterans (donors) to be placed on pavers located on the ground. I find this to be disrespectful as these pavers end up with bird feces, dirt and grime on them.
I requested that bronze plaques be allowed to be placed on the columns with the name(s) of sponsor(s) on them. This would add to the beauty of this Veterans recognition project, especially considering that many of the sponsor(s) are Veterans themselves. The California Department of Transportation policy supports this request (see above).
This project incorporates five 18” bronze military emblems representing the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, the United States Navy, the United States Air Force and the United States Coast Guard. The California Department of Transportation authorized the use of said emblems over one year ago, with the only provision being that the project artist get permission from each branch of the United States Military, to use their respective emblem(s).
That permission was granted from each branch of the United States Military, the letters of permission included a graphic of the respective emblem and each branch of the United States Military authorized use with strict instructions.
Example - “The Army Symbol or any part of its elements cannot be altered in any manner.” “Army trademarks are exclusive property of the United States Army” (Please see the attached Permission letter from the United States Army). The permission letters from the other branches of the United States Military were similar in text.
The United States Army Emblem includes “UNITED STATES ARMY” and the motto, “E Pluribus Unum”. This is the same motto that is on the Great Seal of the United States of America (carried by the American Bald Eagle), the Seal of the President and Vice-President of the United States of America, the Seal of the United States Congress, the Seal of the United States Senate and the Seal of the United States Supreme Court. These Seals and emblems are works of art that are the property of the United States of America.
E Pluribus Unum was the motto suggested by the committee appointed on July 4, 1776 by the United States Congress. This motto is a very important part of our United States history.
The Director of the California Department of Transportation considers the flag of the United States of America to be a political symbol “cannot engage in government speech by displaying political symbols, such as flags on Caltrans property” (please see attached letter from the Director of the California Department of Transportation, dated August 31, 2011).
I strongly disagree, that the flag of the United States of America, that unites all of us, is a political symbol.
The Orcutt community’s roots are saturated with American Veterans, they elevate our moral fiber and they deserve our upmost respect. This wonderful project honors all American Veterans. American Veterans are a rare breed, they are the ones that stand up and say I will die, not only for my freedom but for your freedom.
I hope that you and all of the County Supervisors will stand as tall for this project as our Veterans have stood for all of us, in the name of freedom.
God Bless America,