An ambitious $250,000 plan would transform Flag Pole Park at Fort Peck into a place of honor and remembrance for service men and women as Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial Park. Groundbreaking is planned for Memorial Day and fundraising has begun, Steve Page of Glasgow announced this week.
The park will honor those who serve and have served, he said.
"More than 9,000 men and women from Northeast Montana have served in uniform and more than 300 gave their lives," he said. "The park will be a reminder of the freedom we have thanks to their sacrifice and service."
Inspiration for the park's design came from original plans for the town of Fort Peck, which featured a circular flagpole area.
Central to the Memorial Park will be a monument reflective of the design used in the powerhouses at Fort Peck Dam. An American flag and flags for each branch of service will flank the monument and circular walkways will lead to places for reflection.
The project is the work of local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion members who formed a committee.
"We realized that all other areas in the state have recognized their veterans," said Art Widhalm of St. Marie.
He brings a wide vision to the committee through his work as the senior vice commander, Department of Montana, VFW.
Success of the project relies on support of people from all counties in this part of the state, explains Tom Markle, who works on fundraising for the committee. The current effort will provide the first footprints for the Memorial Park.
"In this first phase, we plan to build the central monument, install walkways and do landscaping," he explained. "It is our intention to build the entire memorial with private and sponsor donations."
Expected costs for the initial plans are $250,000. Recognition walls, sculptures and a vigil area are planned to be added.
The committee is working with many organizations in the region to build awareness and enthusiasm for the project, and fundraising letters are in the mail.
"Northeast Montana residents have a long history of military service," Page said. "It began when the First Montana Volunteers organized in 1894, continued through all conflicts, including today's war on terror. The Memorial Park will be an everlasting demonstration of our gratitude for their service," Page said. "It's now time for us to take up the challenge."
More details: Call 228-2223 and visit http://www.VeteransMT.org.