By Luke Robins
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter
ST. JOHNS – The Veterans Memorial in downtown St. Johns serves as both an attraction and an area to honor fallen soldiers from Clinton County.
Dennis Scott, a member of the Clinton County Veteran’s Trust Fund Committee, said, “It’s a labor of love. It’s something we wanted to be proud of when we were done with it and I think we’ve achieved that goal now.”
Erected in 2006, the monument features a cannon, a brick pathway with names engraved, and black granite tables that features soldiers that lost their lives during battle surrounded by flags.
Scott said that it honors soldiers from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War.
According to Scott, families are allowed to purchase bricks from $30 to $50 that will honor a veteran by carving their name on it. The idea behind this was to help raise money and pay for the memorial.
Scott said that the total cost was approximately $250,000. All of it was raised locally.
“It’s important to note that we never spent a dime we didn’t have already. When the bills came through, they were paid in full and upfront by very patriotic individuals.”
According to Scott, the new court house was supposed to be built where the memorial is, but the water levels were too shallow so it was moved further north. The cannon and flag pole would not be able to last at the new court house, so they decided to make this monument.
Scott said that a boulevard was created to enclose the area and it also adds a nice touch.
“It’s great because the shape of the island is the same shape as a battleship,” Scott said.
Andy Searles, a St. Johns local, said that it is nice to look at and allows families to remember and honor lost loved ones.
“You drive by it and see it every day. It’s a fun thing to look at,” Searles said, “There’s a section for people’s families who were actually in that war. So a lot of people that actually go there see their names and remember them back in the day.”
Judi Thelen, who has family in the army, volunteers to help weed and take care of the memorial.
According to Thelen, she enjoys helping out, because it allows to her to honor the soldiers and she can talk to other citizens.
“This is the least I can do for the people who have given their lives up,” Thelen said. “You stand out here and people are always coming up and talking to you and it makes it more enjoyable.”
Scott said that the memorial allows the community to show their respect for soldiers of the past, present, and future and it means a lot to community as a whole:
It gives the citizens a place to go and a place to show our respect and admiration for those who have died and served this country as well as those who served and wore the colors for the past, present and future. The community has really taken a hands on approach to this memorial, which is very gratifying. Pretty much anyone you deal with there is taking ownership of something and it is nice to have that one thing that is bigger than we are individually.
According to Scott, it was nice to see the committees, the community, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the Michigan Department of Transportation all come together to make this happen.
“The efforts of committees involved and the community at large are the reason we have such a place now,” Scott said. “It’s great to see that a small town committee like mine can work with Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Department of Transportation and come out with a winning solution for all three.”