(Alexandria, MN) Months of planning, pleas and paperwork led to Friday. With dozens of people standing at the corner of 8th and Broadway, in the rain, the first dirt was turned over on the Alexandria Veteran's Memorial Park. In addition to a wide variety of people from the community the crowd was full of veterans in uniform. One of the organizers of the project, Vietnam veteran Russ Oorlog acted as emcee of the event. The colors were presented, prayers were said, comments made by both Mayor Sara Carlson and Oorlog himself, as well as the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner and the playing of Taps.
When it came time for the groundbreaking a shovel was provided for Ralph Berg, representing the Army, Gabe Pipo represented the Navy, Jim Conn grabbed the shovel for the Air Force and Grant Haugen for the Marines. Tom Hargreaves represented the Coast Guard, while Ken Voigt did so for the Merchant Marines. Mayor Sara Carlson took hold of a shovel, as did City Council Member Bobbi Osterberg, Bill Thoennes as Director for the City Parks, and Jerry Rapp as a Douglas County Commissioner. The last shovel was reserved for Richard Schlosser. He was given the honor of representing the Veteran's Funerals group.
The memorial committee says they are very close to their financial goal, but more donations are needed. The overall goal of the park is to give veterans as well as the general public a place to go to remember those from the area who have served our country. The park will be an ideal setting for civic events and celebrations such as Memorial Day, July Fourth and Veterans Day.
The anticipated official opening of the park is set for July 4th, 2020. To learn more about how to get a veteran's name on the memorial, follow this link. There is also information listing all those names who are already set to be included.
The official beginning of construction is set for Monday, August 5th.
Here is video of Friday's groundbreaking ceremony by Joe Korkowski.(BELOW) It contains extended audio from both Mayor Sara Carlson and Russ Oorlog.