To Chris Madsen, it’s a way to honor the nation’s veterans.
And something that’s long overdue.
Madsen, who is chairman of the Avenue of Flags, is spearheading efforts with local veterans groups to raise funds to construct a veterans’ memorial in Fremont.
“We’re going to call it ‘Veterans Memorial Park,’” said Madsen, adding that it will be for Dodge County as a whole.
The park memorial, which at this time is estimated to cost more than $250,000, will be situated in front of Sidner Ice Arena where the old Memorial Park was located. It will be an extension of the Eternal Flame Memorial on East Military Avenue.
Funding for the project will come from donations from businesses, organizations and private individuals as well as from the sales of veterans’ tiles.
A hexagon monument will be in the center of the memorial’s concrete oval-shaped base. The monument will include pictures and information about conflicts and wars in which the United States has been involved.
The photographs and graphics will be etched into the black granite monument with a laser, said Earl Boston, who with his wife, Mary, co-owns West Point Monument, which is constructing the memorial.
The memorial also will include six monoliths. Each monolith will represent a branch of the military and will include pictures and symbols, Madsen said.
“There’s still a lot to be decided as far as the finalization of graphics on all of the granite (monoliths),” Madsen added.
The memorial also will include an American flag and benches.
A statue — to be lighted at night — will be situated at the front part of the oval-shaped memorial.
Boston said the statue will depict a soldier holding a folded American flag and kneeling at what’s called a Battle Cross — a cross with a fallen soldier’s boots, helmet and rifle.
The oval-shaped memorial will be west of the Eternal Flame, which is on a concrete island. Flags representing each of the six branches of the military will be placed on that island.
This memorial also has an American flag. Memory tiles will be displayed at the base of this flag and in an area between the flag and the Eternal Flame.
On the opposite end of the Eternal Flame, near Military Avenue, will be what Boston describes as “Liberty Island.” It will include a granite-shaped star coming out of the ground. Behind that will be one monolith featuring a laser-etched depiction of the Statue of Liberty. Near that will be a monolith with a depiction of the Liberty Bell.
Madsen said Boston will be the overall project designer and contractor.
“He’ll be the project lead, but at the same time we’re going to use local contractors as well,” Madsen added.
Madsen hopes to see the project completed by Memorial Day 2018.
“That’s a lofty goal and that’s our hope, but that’s all going to depend on funding,” he said.
Three types of veterans’ tiles will be available for purchase. Veterans need not be deceased to have a tile purchased in their honor. Current military personnel can purchase a tile, too. When their end date occurs, it can be added later.
One type of tile will include the service person’s name, branch of service, years served, which conflict/war they served in, if they were a prisoner of war and/or if the person was killed in action.
The second type will include this information, plus the veteran’s photo.
A third type — the website tile — will have the information and photograph along with a scan-able quick reference (QR) barcode that will link to the veteran’s own personal webpage, which can be updated with information and photographs for years to come.
“It’s basically a living tribute,” Madsen said.
Tiles range in price from $100 to $200. Order forms can be found on the City of Fremont’s website at www.fremontne.gov. Paper copies can be found on the second floor of the city municipal building on Military Avenue or by emailing Madsen at email@example.com.
Donations for construction of the Veterans Memorial Park are being accepted. Checks should be made payable to Fremont Avenue of Flags, in care of Veterans Park. The checks can be mailed to: Fremont Avenue of Flags, Attn: Veterans’ Memorial Park, P.O. Box 532, Fremont, NE 68025.
Madsen believes it’s time for Fremont to have this veterans’ memorial.
“It’s long overdue because there are many cities and towns around us such as Wahoo, North Bend and Dodge that have done memorials such as this,” he said. “We want to make sure we represent all veterans from all service branches and that everyone is represented — past, present and future. This is a living tribute. It’s going to be ever-evolving as time progresses.”