Written by The Herald-News
Flag Pole Park at Fort Peck can be transformed into a place of honor and remembrance for service men and women when the Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial Park becomes a reality next year. Groundbreaking is planned for Memorial Day and fundraising has begun, announced Steve Page of Glasgow.
The park will honor those who serve today and those who served in the past, he said. “More than 9,000 men and women from northeast Montana have served in uniform and more than 300 gave their lives. The park will be a reminder of the freedom we have today 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 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 War and American Legion members who formed a committee three years ago.
“We realized that all other areas in the state have recognized their veterans,” said Art Widhalm of St. Marie. “Ours is a regional goal: to honor veterans from across northeast Montana.” 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 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 and not use any government funding.” Expected costs for the initial plans are $250,000. Recognition walls, sculptures and a vigil area can be added in the future.
Currently, 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. The time is right to build a regional memorial, Page concluded.
“Northeast Montana residents have a long history of military service. 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.”
For more information on the veterans memorial park, contact the committee at 228-2223 or visit the website at www.VeteransMT.org.