Tricounty News

Honoring Veterans

Work is being completed on a new veterans memorial in the area. On a corner lot in Kingston, where the original hardware store once stood, stands a stately black-granite monument to area veterans. A walkway lined with rows of black-granite pavers etched with the names of local veterans graces the memorial. They hope to have it completed by Aug. 13 for the antique car run. The dedication ceremony will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, followed by lunch at the community center.

Kingston honors veterans with memorial

By Jean Doran Matua, Editor

This project began about two years ago: a memorial to Kingston area veterans.

John Smith has been mayor of Kingston several times, and was commander of the Kingston American Legion Club for 14 years, including in 2001 when the club building was severely damaged by fire.

After the fire, Smith and others put together plans for a new community center building to be shared by the Legion and Kingston Lions.

Smith says that every year they've tried to make a small change for the better in their town of 160 people.

About two years ago, Kingston was all but promised thousands of dollars in arts grants for a veterans memorial. The Orns decided to donate a piece of land for the memorial. But when it came time to ask for grant money, they found out that was never a real possibility. So they were back to square one. They had land, but no money to build anything.

Meanwhile, the donated lot was swapped for a lot on the corner with better visibility and accessibility. Plans for the site could proceed.

Both the Orns and the Smiths have carefully observed veterans memorials all over Minnesota and beyond. They've taken note of what they like and what they don't like about each one. A lot of thought and planning went into the memorial in Kingston.

"This will be the best," said Dick Orn of the Kingston memorial.

So far, 183 engraved paver stones have been sold since Memorial Day. They are 6x12 inches, and 2 inches thick, and made of the same black granite from Babbitt, Minn., as the main monument. They are being set flush with the sidewalk.

Of the 182 sold so far, three are for men who were killed in action: Henry Forslin, Leonard "Douglas" Johnson, and Eddie Kelly.

A number of groups and individuals have contributed to make this memorial come together:

Ron Dietman of Kimball is doing the engraving.

Cold Spring Granite did the cutting and polishing of the big pieces.

Mark Ailie of Dassel has worked to clear and prepare the land. His workers donated their time for the cement work.

Knife River provided the cement at a discount.

Kirk Sodegren and Bailey Nurseries have donated the landscaping (that's not yet put in).

Kingston Lions are donating flags and installation.

Bonniwell Electric of Dassel installed floodlights.

Warren Lindberg is doing landscaping work.

Micki Turja is making two red-white-and-blue quilts, one of which will be raffled off the day of the memorial dedication.

Meeker Cooperative has made a donation to the project.

They used local contractors for as much as they could on this project.

They will install a fence behind the memorial once it stops raining. They hope to lay sod rather than seeding the grassy area in front of the memorial, and are looking for donations to help with that. They'd like to have it ready for the big car run through Kingston Saturday, Aug. 13.

Paver stones may be purchased for $175 for any Kingston area veteran, living or dead.

"We wouldn't be sitting here today if it wasn't for the veterans," said John Smith. Both he and Orn were veterans, John in the Navy in VietNam and Dick a Marine in Korea. It's clear that this is an important and personal project to them.

Donations can be sent to City of Kingston, 30840 722nd Ave., Dassel MN 55325. E-mail is veterans

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Or call Julie at (320) 398-2688 or Sandy at 398-8025.

A dedication ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at the memorial. There will be a lunch afterward, at the community center.