Olivia marks Memorial Day with dedication of new veterans memorial
The city of Olivia celebrated an extra-special Memorial Day with the dedication of its new veterans memorial. The memorial was an eagle scout project by Dominique Claseman. He, with the help of generous businesses, organizations and individuals was able to raise approximately $77,000 for the project.
OLIVIA — Olivia veterans, their families and grateful community members now have a place to reflect and remember those who served and those who gave their lives for their country as members of the Armed Forces. On a stormy Memorial Day, a large crowd gathered Monday afternoon to dedicate the newly completed Olivia Veterans Memorial, located in Kubesh Park, just off of U.S. Highway 71 South.
The memorial was the Eagle Scout project of Boy Scout Dominique Claseman.
"Dom, on behalf of the community of Olivia, thank you for your Americanism, dedication to decency and vision," said Olivia Mayor Jon Hawkinson.
Claseman said that with the donations from local individuals, businesses and organizations he was able to raise $77,000 for the monument. He also thanked all the help he received from family, friends, fellow scouts and local businesses.
"It was more than I could imagined," Claseman said. "The memorial before you is a result of the generous support I and the veterans of our community have received."
The completed memorial begins with a walk of honor with the imprints of a solider's boots. On either side of the walk are black and gray stone slabs engraved with the names of local service members and those who donated to make the memorial possible. At the end of the walkway one comes to 21-foot circle with a memorial stone surrounded by four granite benches. Behind the memorial stands three flag poles for the American, Minnesota and POW flags. The memorial also includes sculptures of two military helmets in honor of local men Kyle Miller and James Wertish, both who died while serving in Iraq. There is also a sculpture of the battle cross, made up of different pieces of battle attire from different wars.
"Dedicated to the courageous brothers and sisters from our community who served our country in times of peace and war," Claseman said, reading the memorial marker dedication. "We thank them for their service, especially those who gave their lives in that service. May God grant them all eternal peace."
National Guard Major Andrew Lang, a medivac commander out of St. Cloud and Minnesota District 17 Senator, also spoke at the dedication. Lang said the nation owes a debt to the fallen heroes who gave their lives for the country and Memorial Day offers an opportunity to remember and think about those service men and women.
"Memorial Day is our nation's solemn reminder that freedom is never free," Lang said. "It is a moment of collective reflection of the noblest of sacrifices of those who gave their very last measure of devotion in service to our ideals and in defense of our great nation."
Prior to the memorial dedication, Olivia held its annual Memorial Day program in the National Guard Armory, joining communities big and small across the state who gathered to honor those soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard who died protecting the United States of America and its allies. The program included music from the BOLD High School Concert Band and an address by Hawkinson. It and the memorial dedication both concluded with the military rifle salute and the playing of Taps by members of the Olivia VFW and American Legion honor guard.