When the League asked cities what they do to honor veterans, we got so many responses we couldn’t include them all in our article, “Cities Honor Veterans,” in the July-August issue of Minnesota Cities magazine. So, in this Minnesota Cities Web Extra, we share some additional stories.
Creating a memorial is one of the most common ways for cities to honor veterans and express gratitude for the great sacrifices they have made. Here are a few recent projects—some still in process—that city officials told us about.
The City of Farmington (population 21,700) has been working to plan, raise funds for, and build the Farmington Veterans Memorial. After years of work, the city will dedicate this memorial on Sept. 7, 2014.
The Farmington Veterans Memorial website explains why they’ve put so much effort into the project: “Young men and women have long answered the nation’s call to serve in the military, to protect the freedoms that we take for granted each day. It is so very appropriate that we never forget their sacrifice.”
The memorial is intended to honor all Farmington area men and women veterans of U.S. military service—past, present, and future. It will include a granite folded American flag to give special recognition to those veterans who died in service. In front of this flag will be a sloping granite tablet with the names and service information of those who gave their lives.
The main theme of the memorial will be “All gave some; some gave all.” American and POW/MIA flags will also be flown at the Veterans Memorial. In addition, there will be stone tablets with military poems, and the memorial will be surrounded by granite pavers with the names of veterans. There are also plans to later add a bronze life-sized statue of a soldier.
The project was selected to receive a 2014 Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund Competitive Veterans’ Memorial Parks Grant in the amount of $9,900 from the Minnesota Department of Administration.
“We think it’s turning out really nice,” says Leon Orr, a member of Farmington’s Veterans Memorial Committee. “People are going to be, we think, really pleased when it is finished.”
The City of Hewitt (population 260) completed and dedicated its own Veterans Memorial in September 2012. Located in the center of the city, the memorial includes an American flag and two walls with the names of past and present members of the military.
Right: The Hewitt Veterans Memorial in the center of the city.
In addition, there is a monument with the seals of the five branches of the military and the words, “Dedicated to the men and women who served in the Armed Forces.” Two benches in front of the memorial allow people to sit and reflect as they look at the monument.
The project was designed and coordinated by veteran and Hewitt City Councilmember Donald Fitzgerald. “Most of the materials were paid for by donations from people all over the 20-mile area,” Fitzgerald says. “It has been visited by many people since it was built. Upon its completion, I sat down on one of the benches and cried.”
The City of Plymouth (population 72,600) has also begun work on a new memorial to honor veterans. The project is part of improvements to the city’s Hilde Performance Center.
The memorial will be composed of two areas. One will include a water feature partially surrounded by a granite wall. The second will be a living memorial—a grove of trees—with a placeholder for a future piece of artwork. While funding for the art is not included in the budget, the city is asking businesses, civic groups, and individuals to make donations to fund it.
Left: A sketch of the planned Plymouth Veterans Memorial.
“Honoring our military veterans was a priority for the mayor and City Council,” says Plymouth Parks and Recreation Director Diane Evans. “They wanted to create a space that would be suitable for quiet reflection and show our community’s gratitude for those who have served.”
The City of Wahkon (population 200) honors its military members, past and present, with Veterans Memorial Park. This year, the city is making several additions to the park. Like Farmington, Wahkon also received a 2014 Competitive Veterans’ Memorial Parks Grant in the amount of $9,900 from the state. (See a list of all the cities that received this 2014 grant at right.)
Some of the additions to the park include a 7-foot monolith made of black India granite, a new gazebo, and additional “Walk to Honor” pavers with names of veterans. The project is headed by the WAVE (Wahkon Area Vision Effusion) Committee, a city volunteer group.
The city had a Memorial Day dedication service on May 25, with the Isle Honor Guard reading the names of veterans on the memorial pavers. The monolith won’t be completed until September, and a Veterans Day dedication is planned for that portion.
City Councilmember and WAVE Committee Chair Tony Button said he has worked on several veterans parks, but never realized the amount of support in a small town like Wahkon. “All the work is done by volunteers,” he said, “and that is an amazing thing.”
The City of Wanamingo (population 1,086) partnered with VFW Post 186 and Wanamingo Veterans Honor Guard on the building and dedication of its Veterans Memorial. The memorial is for all local veterans, but with a specific honor for local veterans that have been listed as POW/MIA. It was dedicated on Sept. 21, 2013.
Right: Dedication of the Wanamingo Veterans Memorial.
The city played an active role in the construction phase and dedication ceremony to assist in keeping costs to a minimum. Councilmember Larry VanDeWalker led the memorial planning committee and was instrumental in the entire process, from initial idea to design to fundraising to construction, and finally, to dedication.
The American and official POW/MIA flags fly in the center of the memorial. Under the flags is a polished black granite monument with the names of the Goodhue County veterans who were prisoners of war or remain missing in action. In the area surrounding the flagpole centerpiece, there are granite pavers with veterans’ names.
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