Three years ago some folks came up with the plans for a very ambitious project, calling it the Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial Park. The town of Fort Peck, in a unanimous resolution, gave the project a permanent easement to build the monument at Fort Peck Flag Pole Park.
There are other memorial parks scattered around Montana but none in this corner of the state. Lewistown/Fergus County spent $1.5 million to build one. Great Falls spent $1.7 million for theirs. There's one in Missoula, one in Dillon and there's the Purple Heart Memorial in Billings.
In our two “major” wars, WWI and WWII, Montana proudly sent 10% of its entire population into the fray in each conflict. That's more men (and women) per capita than any other state. Fifty thousand Montanans put their lives on the line in WWI, and the same in WWII.
Did you ever hear of Capt. William W. Galt? No? Well, he served in World War 2. He was the only Montanan to have been born, raised and buried in Montana after winning the Medal of Honor for “Gallantry in Action.” Capt. Galt is just one of 19 Medal of Honor recipients with ties to Montana.
Closer to home, from Scobey, was Pfc. Henry Schauer, U.S. Army. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for Gallantry in Action in Italy in 1944. He died of natural causes in 1997 and was buried in Oregon, but his name and his heroic deeds need to be remembered in Northeast Montana.
Sgt. 1st Class Henry Hogan was just one of 14 soldiers ever to receive the Medal of Honor in two separate actions. These occurred during the Army's Indian Campaign wars.
These men, and all the men and women who have served this country, some giving the ultimate sacrifice, need to be memorialized for future generations to witness.
There are many medal winners here in this corner of the Big Sky – not all Medal of Honor winners, but Silver Star and Bronze Star winners along with many, many Purple Heart recipients.
Those soldiers and those now serving need to be recognized and memorialized.
The Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial Park is a very ambitious undertaking and will take several years to complete, but with the help of all in these nine northeast Montana counties, the communities, businesses and private sector, it's a project that can be built.
Fort Peck is a logical site for the memorial being centrally located to the nine counties and in a location that is already a tourist 'destination' point.
After visiting with project organizers Tom Markle and Steve Page on this proposed memorial, and doing a lot of research about veterans, medal winners, casualty numbers and more, I feel the need for a memorial of this type here in Northeast Montana is urgent. Project posters all around the area appropriately display these words: “A Place of Dignity, Honor and Respect.”
To voice your support for this project, you can call 406-228-2223, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or e-mail me at email@example.com as well.
That's it for now folks. Thanks for listening.