Dream turns into reality
Saturday (May 19, 2018) was a special day in Blooming Prairie.
It was the day when a dream became reality, a dream to have a veterans memorial paying tribute to the many veterans who have served from this area, or are related to current residents.
Tom Peterson, chairman of the Veterans Memorial Committee, said the memorial is so fitting for the men and women who answered the call to serve their country.
More than 100 supportive people attended the special groundbreaking ceremonies held at the site of the memorial, just east of the Blooming Prairie Servicemen's Club.
With an excavator from Bishop Excavating of BP sitting on the site, Peterson called up many who have been part of the mammoth drive to raise $250,000 for the Memorial. It was then time for photographers of all types to capture history as it happened.
Bishop Excavating has pledged to donate all site preparation costs. Owners Benji and Nicki Bishop and their son Carter turned shovels toward dirt.
Other contractors recognized included Lance Lembke of Lembke Masonry and Keith Johnson of Keith Johnson Construction, Inc. Both are Blooming Prairie businesses.
Electrical contractors are Chuck Krell of Krell Electric and Jason Tieskotter of SME Southern Minnesota Electric Inc.
John and Barb Heerema of Owatonna Granite and Monument Inc. will supply the granite.
Joe Motl, commander of the Blooming Prairie Sons of the American Legion, acknowledged Peterson with starting the Sons group and spearheading the building of a veterans memorial in Blooming Prairie.
"Discussion became a reality," said Motl, referring to the many meetings of organizers talking about the possibility of building a memorial.
"We have strong roots and take care of our veterans," remarked a fired-up Motl.
Peterson said the Sons of the American Legion gave him the authority to form a Veterans Memorial Committee with members representing the Ameerican Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion Auxiliary, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, the Servicemen's Club and the Sons of the American Legion.
Peterson also pointed to the Veterans Memorial Committee (Committee of seven) as being instrumental in this project. He saluted members Tom Walters, Marilyn Meshke, Doug Miner, Sandy Jones, Fred Vokoun, Ken Vermilyea and Peterson.
Jon Olson has worked with the committee as construction superintendent.
The Veterans Memorial Corporation consists of directors Keith Holman, Kurt Blome, Jaclyn Schlichter and Doug Miner.
Peterson reported that Wall 1 (the West Wall) and Wall 2 (the North Wall) are filled. Total contributions to date are $166,449.12, which is 66.5 percent of the $250,000 goal. "We have $83,550.88 to go so keep those contributions coming and reserve a paver for your veteran in Phase III," said Peterson.
Peterson called representatives of the service organizations and contractors to grab a shovel and participate in the groundbreaking.
He called the following forward: Joe Motl, commander of Squadron #52 of the Sons of the American Legion; Bruce Kubicek, American Legion; Brian Hoveland, Post 878 of the VFW; Jaclyn Schlichter, Legion Auxiliary president; Joyce Johns, VFW Auxiliary president; Doreen Blome, BP Servicemen's Club president; the Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial Committee of Seven and Jon Olson, construction superintendent; the BP Veterans Memorial Corporation; and the various contractors previously mentioned.
Concluding his remarks, Peterson said "for the love of the United States of America and to honor all the men and women throughout the nation who have served. . .and will serve . . . we are dedicated to encourage and foster patriotism and provide recognition to all veterans for their courage and willingness to give all for their country, we hereby formally break ground for the Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial."
Peterson introduced World War II veteran Milton Ruhter, 96, of Austin. He watched the ceremonies from the vehicle of his son.
Ruhter served four years in the U.S. Army, much of it spent in Germany. "That was a long time ago," said Ruhter.
Following the groundbreaking, many of the people moved into the club to eat a delicious pulled pork meal and to participate in a silent auction as part of Spring Fling activities.
"I am a happy man today," smiled Peterson widely as he said two walls (144 pavers each) have been completed "and we are 20 pavers into Wall #3."