Why build a memorial?

FAIRMONT

The mission statement of the Martin County Veterans Memorial is: “To provide a source of funding for veterans memorials and parks, to commemorate the men and women of Martin County whose faithful loyalty and service in our armed forces, during times of war and peace, has helped preserve our nation’s freedom.”

With this in mind, in January 2016, local veterans organizations (what’s left of them) were contacted, along with community officials in Martin County, to establish a planning committee for the purpose of creating a veterans memorial.

Since our first meeting, we have had a fair representation from the citizens of these towns, as well as Martin County commissioners Dan Schmidtke, Kathy Smith and Tom Mahoney attending the monthly meetings.

Questions addressed at these meetings: 1) What is a memorial? A memorial per Webster’s Dictionary is to be mindful, or serving as a remembrance of anything meant to help people remember a person or event. 2) Why was Fairmont chosen as the location of this memorial? Initial consideration was given to name the memorial Fairmont Area Veterans memorial, with Fairmont being the memorial location. Some of the communities of Martin County already have veteran memorials or are in the process of establishing one. Since some of the smaller towns do not have the people or resources to create their own memorial, Fairmont, as the county seat of Martin County, was chosen and the memorial was named Martin County Veterans Memorial. The Fairmont memorial was given first priority of completion, with other towns given opportunity to participate in recognizing all Martin County veterans. To show our support of veterans memorials or parks, the MCVM committee has donated money toward the Trimont Memorial. 3) What is being planned? The initial phase of this memorial consists of a red granite entrance sign “Martin County Veterans Memorial,” flagpole and U.S. flag, parade area and a black granite wall etched with automatic inclusion of the names of Martin County veterans killed in action and prisoners of war from WWI, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. Other Martin County resident veterans, living or deceased, may have their name included on the wall at a cost. The next phase or phases will consist of statues depicting soldiers from these war periods, a walking path with benches, and other reminders of these event.

As for funding, the committee’s goal is to raise $500,000. In satisfying any community endeavor, donations from private businesses, individuals or other funding becomes necessary. Many corporations feel a sense of responsibility to give back to the communities in which they do business. Businesses and banks in Fairmont, but not all, have already been contacted to contribute by either direct giving programs, foundations, sponsorship programs, in-kind donations, volunteer programs or matching gifts. To date, more than $100,000 has been raised.

Thank you to the following businesses or individuals who have contributed: Donations in-kind — land provided by Doug and Diana Kahler; services or product from Madsen Land Surveying; appraisal by Mike Montemurno; legal from Terry Viesselman; foundation work by S&J Excavating; concrete by Martin County Ready Mix.

We have received a matching grant from Martin County Area Foundation for $20,000.

Cash donations estimated at $35,000 have been received from American Legion Post 36, South Central DAV, Vietnam Veterans Association, Valero, veteran named inscriptions, and miscellaneous sales.

Grant requests have been submitted to various companies and organizations to help reach our goal.

As Commissioner Schmidtke stated in a Sentinel article, it should be noted that the memorial committee did not request funds or a donation from Martin County. Thanks is given to commissioners Schmidtke and Smith for their support of the Martin County Veterans Memorial and their consideration of providing additional funds through the county.

Region Nine Area, Inc. has been contracted to handle fiscal responsibility for the MCVM. Tax-deductible cash donations can be made to “Region Nine Area, Inc.” with a memo designating Martin County Veterans Memorial as recipient. Veteran name inscription cost is $200 per name. Mail to: MCVM, P.O. Box 623, Fairmont, MN 56031. For information on how to contribute cash, volunteer services, including clerical or computer skills, or to have a veteran’s name inscribed on the wall, please contact Chuck Mixson at (507) 236-1072, Jim Miller at (507) 236-1026, or by email mcvmproject@gmail.com

Also, if you wish to participate in the continued planning and building of the memorial, the committee meets the first Wednesday of each month at 95 Downtown Plaza in Fairmont. Thank you.

Jim Miller of Fairmont is an organizer with the Martin County Veterans Memorial project.

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