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Wendy Reuer, Published May 22 2012

Legion’s soldier memorial completed

MOORHEAD – It’s taken just a little more than a year, but Monday – on Memorial Day – Moorhead’s Post 21 Memorial will be finished and open to the public.

The American Legion brick memorial includes a three-sided wall with granite emblems honoring the Legion and its branches, plus an additional five inlets representing the five branches of the military.

“We wanted to memorialize and honor the men and women that have served in the armed forces to give us our freedom,” said Dennis Beckerleg, chairman of the memorial committee.

Work is wrapping up this week on the roughly 3,000- square-foot patio outside the American Legion in Moorhead. The wall is complete, but flags, lights and a fallen soldier memorial will be installed within the next few days.

Family and friends of Clay County veterans were allowed to purchase benches that will sit at each service branch memorial to honor their soldiers and also give visitors a place to sit and enjoy the memorial.

Most of the roughly $80,000 project has been funded through donations, said designer Verle Walter.

Walter said the memorial design just “rolled off his head.” It is loosely based on a similar memorial in northern Minnesota.

Plans for the memorial began last spring, and crews broke ground in June.

Each service branch area also includes an area for brick pavers, which family and friends of a veteran can purchase for $75. The pavers are engraved with a soldier’s name and then placed in the patio area of the branch that soldier served in.

Walter said there is room for 880 pavers, and about 150 have been sold.

Beckerleg said a person honored with a paver does not have to be from Clay County.

Granite slabs engraved with the names of all Clay County residents who were prisoners of war or killed in action hang under each military branch.

Beckerleg said room was left on the slabs for future names to be added.

“We don’t want to see more (names of people killed in action), but there will be,” Walter said.

Moorhead’s Melvin E. Hearl Post 21 American Legion is home to about 715 members and has been a part of the city for nearly 100 years.

Sons of the American Legion, Ladies Auxiliary and Legion Riders are also part of Post 21.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530

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