Over the Top
A donation of $10,000 by the Blooming Prairie Lions Club has pushed the Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial over its $250,000 goal established four years ago.
"This is truly a momentous occasion," remarked Tom Peterson in accepting a check from President Greg Skillestad and Lions Board Member Dean Zilm of the Blooming Prairie Lions Club.
It was quite an emotional moment as Zilm said the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 52 ignited the idea of the memorial by creating a committee to work on the project. The committee has representation from the various military service posts.
All five local service organizations are represented on the memorial committees. They include American Legion Post 52 and Auxiliary, VFW Post 878 and Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion.
The Blooming Prairie Veterans Committee consists of Tom Walters, Ken Vermilyea, Marilyn Meshke, Sandy Jones, Doug Miner, Fred Vokoun and Tom Peterson.
Directors of the Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial Corporation are: Kurtis Blome, Keith Holman, Jaclyn Schlichter, Doug Miner and Tom Peterson.
The first meeting of the Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial Committee was May 15, 2014.
Even though the goal has now been achieved, Peterson says much work is yet to be done. Excess funds will be used for maintenance and future expansion of the memorial, he explained.
Who is the BP Veterans Memorial for? A mission statement reads: “It is the purpose of the Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial to honor ALL the men and women throughout our nation who have served, are currently serving, and will serve in the armed forces of the United States of America. 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.”
It is very exciting, comforting and heart warming to see communities around the country pay tribute to their local veterans by constructing a memorial for them, Peterson said.
The $10,000 check was turned over to Peterson at the regular monthly meeting of the Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial Committee at the BP Servicemen's Club.
Peterson said the contribution from the Lions places the total donations to date at $252,960.65, 101 percent of the goal. He said 352 pavers have been reserved for veterans.
A $25,000 contribution was also recently received from Craig Kruckeberg and family. Early in the fundraising process, the Farmers & Merchants State Bank of Blooming Prairie donated $25,000 to the project. Bishop Excavating also donated $10,000 in site preparation costs.
A walk-through of the BP Veterans Memorial is planned for Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11. Dedication of the memorial hopefully will be next Memorial Day on Monday, May 27, 2019.
Peterson said the granite is due to arrive around Nov. 1. Concrete was recently poured and the electrical system has been installed.
The memorial is located to the east of the Blooming Prairie Servicemen's Club.
The Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial was designed by the Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial Committee in collaboration with John Heerema of Owatonna Granite and Monument.
The memorial will include the following design:
• Granite archway to the memorial
• Solid granite pedestal with adorning bald eagle. Language on the pedestal recognizes the POW/MIA veteran.
• Single flagpole adorned with the United States flag and POW/MIA flag
• At the base of the flagpole are five solid granite tablets recognizing five branches of service.
• Surrounding the flags and granite tablets are three walls with wall pavers to recognize the veterans.