Grand Meadow veteran’s memorial takes shape

Published 6:40 am Thursday, May 13, 2010

GRAND MEADOW — Austin isn’t the only area town nearing completion on a monument to honor local veterans. The Grand Meadow American Legion is chipping away at work on Veteran’s Memorial Park.

“It’s to honor those who served,” said Leland Ottman, commander of the Harry T. Anderson American Legion Post 140. “Whether it was during war time or not, if you signed on the line, you’re signing up to do whatever they tell you needs to be done.”

Ottman said about 141 pavers have been sold for the project, which has been going on for about five years. Ottman said work on the pavers will begin soon so the initial pavers and a flag pole are in place for the city’s Memorial Day service.

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“I personally feel it’s important to have some physical thing to commemorate what some people have given to this country and this community,” Ottman said.

The memorial will be shaped like an octagon of benches with two open sides. In the center of the octagon is a large flag pole, donated by a legion member who recently died, at the center of a star. Benches were chosen because Ottman said legion members wanted the memorial to be something that could be used by the community.

Like the Austin memorial, Grand Meadow is working with Anderson Memorial on the project. Ottman said they plan to set up a perpetual care fund to continually maintain the memorial.

While Grand Meadow’s American Legion isn’t large, Ottman said it’s an active group. Each year, the Grand Meadow American Legion hosts a Memorial Day service, and the legion visits 13 area cemeteries.

“Our legion is not huge, but for a small town we’re doing halfway decent compared to some of the big cities that are fighting hard to even stay solvent,” Ottman said.

Ottman said Grand Meadow has a strong base of people who have been in the military, and many who have made a career out of military service.

“We have a real strong military backing around here,” Ottman said.

Rather than paying contractors, people are volunteering their time to work on the memorial.

“There’s a lot of little details, and we’re just trying to do the bulk of it on our own,” Ottman said.

With part of the memorial slated to be ready for Memorial Day, Ottman said he hopes the full memorial can be completed by the fall.

“Everything’s kind of lining up,” Ottman said. “It’s just a matter of getting it all done.”

However, there is room for the project to continue to grow and change in the future. While the initial goal is to sell about 200 pavers, Ottman said there’s room to expand beyond that to keep adding pavers. The pavers have been sold to people across the country, as Ottman said many people have called looking to buy pavers to honor a family member or friend.

“Two hundred pavers could be just a nice start,” Ottman said.

The veterans memorial isn’t the only part of the project. Veterans Memorial Park will also be a community park featuring park shelters and other amenities. A key feature of the park will be a new walking trail, but that won’t be built until enough funding is raised.

New playground equipment is scheduled to arrive May 21. Heather Voigt, chairwoman of Grand Meadow Parks and Recreation, said the plan is for the equipment to be in place by Meadow Fest June 25-27.