All Vets Memorial Museum grand opening set for Monday
The All Veterans Memorial Museum in Hubbard County will host a grand opening on Monday, Sept. 11 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Visitors will get a glimpse at the second phase of the project: an educational building and museum.
Individuals will be given the opportunity to peruse military artifacts from wars throughout the centuries that have been donated to the museum.
On Monday, there will be a program, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. which will include the display of the colors, a prayer, there will be a speaker, a ribbon cutting and a luncheon.
The All Veterans Memorial originally began with the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 38 (DAV) of Park Rapids.
Mike Lester, commander of the organization, hoped to someday have a memorial for veterans in the area. He spoke with other DAV members and the Hubbard County Veterans Services Office.
The members of the DAV agreed, but due to the magnitude of the project they knew they were going to need assistance. They held meetings with other service organizations to start the process and formed a committee.
Plans began to fall into place and a contest was held to find a design for the memorial. The winning design was drawn by Park Rapids High School student Matt Kari Jr., then a junior, and chosen by the committee members.
A local architect offered his services at a reduced rate and the work began in October 2002.
As the first concrete was poured on Oct. 24, 2002, a group of veterans arrived to give the memorial a "heart." A Purple Heart Medal was wrapped in two American Flags and sealed in an airtight PVC container, it was then placed into the footings and covered with concrete.
In August 2003, the memorial was opened to the public after the colors were paraded onto the field by a joint veterans organization and hoisted.
"I've had several parties throughout the summer say that this is the nicest memorial they've seen," Diane Johnson, treasurer at the memorial said.
The committee for the memorial has had numerous members throughout the years for various reasons, but the memorial has only seen minor changes.
According to Johnson, the majority of the committee members have some sort of military connection.
Construction of the museum began in 2010, according to financial records, Johnson said.
The hope is to help educate the public about the tragedy of war through the display of "Veterans' Voices," which are interviews with veterans recorded on DVDs, giving an account of their experiences at war.
Beginning in 1998, flagstones were sold to help reach the required financial goal. Currently, the memorial has numerous paving stones, which form a walkway, as well as a few memorial benches, but they still need more to be placed.
"Most of the stones out there have a local connection," Johnson said, adding that the stones help fund the project. "Either they grew up in Park Rapids or they have a connection to the area somehow."
So much has been accomplished, but the goal is still not yet achieved. The committee still requires funding for other phases of the project as well as volunteers to staff the building, the donation of artifacts from all of the wars are constantly appreciated by the members and there is still a need for more "veterans' voices" to tell their stories.