Some landmark days are ahead for the Fennimore Veteran’s Memorial and Memorial Park.
“The whole park should be landscaped and the title stone in by November,” Fennimore American Legion Auxiliary President Merry Cooley said. “That is what is really going to draw the attention of those people driving by.”
The placement of the 3-D title stone, which will cost $13,000, will be the next in a series of milestones leading to an anticipated completion next spring.
“We are hoping to have this all done by next Memorial Day, if people step up to the plate,” volunteer Dagna Doan added. “We were hoping for Veteran’s Day of this year, but the way the economy has been, we can’t complain.
“We are still alive and kicking here, and hopefully people will be seeing some big changes this fall.”
Flagpoles were installed Saturday, Sept. 8. Flags will be flown from the flagpoles following the dedication of the memorial.
Cooley and Doan have been busy compiling the list of Fennimore veterans whose names will be engraved on the tablets throughout the Memorial Park.
“We want to make sure people are aware that we are getting close to working on these projects and getting them engraved,” Doan said.
As of this writing, the list includes:
• One veteran of the War of 1812
• 153 veterans of the Civil War
• Six veterans of the Spanish-American War
• 252 World War I veterans
• 618 World War II veterans
• 173 Korean War veterans
• 162 veterans who served during peace time
• 237 Vietnam War veterans
• 71 veterans currently serving their country
Once completed, the list will be available for review at the City of Fennimore webpage related to the project (http://www.fennimore.com/community/vet-memorial.php).
Cooley and Doan urge Fennimore veterans who are currently serving their country to submit their information as well.
“We consider a veteran as someone who is currently serving as well as past,” Cooley said.
The Memorial Park will include two cannons. One cannon is a grey, Japanese cannon, while the other is an American artillery cannon.
Through research completed at the American Legion Hall, Doan has learned both cannons were given to the City of Fennimore in 1947.
“The cannons were given to the city by the war department for our efforts in the scrap iron for World War II at no expense to the city,” Doan said. “We’ve been trying to find history so it can be displayed in the park and make it more interesting for people.”
A city park was located where the Memorial Building stands now. It included a gazebo and a cannon. There was speculation the grey cannon once stood in Fennimore’s city park prior to World War II, Cooley noted.
“There was speculation that this big cannon was that cannon,” Cooley said. “But we know it is not, because of Dagna’s investigation, plus it has Japanese writing on it.
“We are pretty sure they took the original cannon, sent it to the war department and that was part of the scrap metal.”
The American artillery cannon was refurbished by the staff at Collision Specialists earlier this year. It is “Army drab green” in color.
“Some other people want the Japanese cannon to be the same color, but in all the history books, your Japanese cannons were grey, like the color of the one there currently,” Doan said. “That is why that is going to be staying grey, because it is not an American cannon.”
Close to $90,000 has been raised toward the Fennimore Veteran’s Memorial project. The fundraising goal for the Fennimore Veteran’s Memorial is $150,000, which includes perpetual care.
“We have people who have made pledges and we’d like to encourage them as soon as possible to honor those pledges, so we can keep moving forward,” Doan said. “We have a little ways to go yet.”
There are still pavers available at $100 each (pavers include three lines of type with 13 characters and spaces per line). One granite bench is still available.
Earlier this year a golf outing fundraiser was held, as well as a Rock ‘N Roll Reunion.
“Considering everything going on, we had a fabulous turnout,” Doan said. “We’ve been asked to have another golf outing next year.”
An annual Bohemian Dinner will be held next January. Fundraisers are also planned between now and Christmas.
“We are working all the time, but we are always looking for donations,” Doan said.
The response to the project, which started with fundraising efforts in November 2010, has been far and wide.
“It is amazing how many other states that have former Fennimore residents have stepped up to the plate,” Doan said. “I’ve had calls from Virginia, Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey and Washington of former veterans that have donated.
“We have really been blessed, I think. It has been remarkable.”