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Dedication held for New London Memorial Park

Dale Peterson, front, of the New London American Legion post, leads the salute to the memorials Saturday morning during the dedication ceremony of the New London Memorial. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

NEW LONDON - As a small crowd looked on, the new memorial park in New London was officially dedicated Saturday morning.

The park's five granite slabs commemorate local history and the service of past, present and future military veterans.

Organizers hope the park, on Main Street perched above the Crow River dam, will become a place for New London residents and visitors alike to connect with the town's roots and its record of service.

"It's a nice addition to our town," said New London Mayor Bill Gossman.

The dedication ceremony, which took place during the annual New London Water Days, drew a cluster of onlookers for speeches by local dignitaries and the lowering of the U.S. flag while a pair of trumpeters played "Taps." A rifle salute by the New London American Legion honor guard echoed up and down Main Street.

Afterwards, visitors drew in for a closer look at the bronzed memorial inscriptions and to snap photographs.

Credit goes to the Robert Ihlang Post 537 American Legion of New London for coming up with the idea for the park and raising the $78,000 to develop the site.

For years, the site was occupied by a federal fish hatchery operated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The longtime landmark disappeared in 2006 when the building was torn down after being closed.

Dale Peterson, finance chairman of the New London American Legion, saw a new use for the site. "I was driving by one day and decided this would be a good spot for a memorial," he said. "It's an ideal location."

Legion members approved the project the following year, appointing Peterson to head a committee to develop the plans for the park and raise the money to fund it.

It took six years, from start to finish. The final landscaping wasn't completed until about two weeks ago.

"It was a big project," Peterson said.

Each of the commemorative slabs is made of polished gray granite from Morton, Minn., site of some of the oldest exposed granite in the world. The Legion commissioned a writer to put together the history summaries for the bronze plaques on each slab - the early history of New London, the origin of the Crow River dam, the story of the federal fish hatchery and the history of the New London American Legion.

"Those four memorials are the history of the city," Peterson said.

The fifth and largest slab honors each branch of the military.

Final touches include lighting and landscaping. The land on which the park sits is owned by the DNR and is being leased to the city of New London.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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