- Associated Press - Sunday, January 24, 2016

HANKINSON, N.D. (AP) - A building is taking shape next to the Hankinson American Legion Learning Site on the southern shores of Lake Elsie in rural Hankinson.

Snow has drifted inside this small building, as well as scaffolding and saw horses for the volunteer laborers who have been busy erecting what they can in the dead of winter.

Today, the building is little more than bare wood. It promises so much more in that it will be a memorial to the men and women from southeastern North Dakota who have served in the U.S. armed forces.

The word memorial in no way means the names that will be inscribed on 55 granite slabs will come from veterans who are deceased. It is a memorial in the sense that it will honor those who served in the American military, from men and women who have ties to this area, those who are living or deceased.

Three Eberhard Post 88 members gathered inside the Learning Site recently, armed with a list of names of people who already signed up for a nominal fee to have their names inscribed within the memorial. Arnie Anderson, Cornie IntVeld and Bruce Murphy are among the planners who have looked at this project in earnest now for about two years. It originally was planned to include this immediately when the Learning Site was first constructed, but there were not any grants available to help the Hankinson American Legion members start construction, Anderson said.

“We had to go to conservation education to get some grants. There were no grants available for memorials. People give for the future and not the past,” he told The Daily News of Wahpeton (https://bit.ly/1PoGu6H ).

So Legion members have been quietly accepting donations within their ranks to get the project off and running. When complete, the building will contain 55 slabs, 11 on each of the five walls. Each black, granite slab will hold 17 names, which will amount to 935 names when each space has been filled.

The five sides are symbolic and stand for each branch of the U.S. military - Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. The building resembles the Pentagon in its overall shape.

It will be partly an amphitheater, outdoor lounging area and will be open at each of the five corners to allow in natural light. A cupola will stand at the top to provide even more natural light. Electric lighting will be installed inside and the roof itself will be copper penny steel. So far the American Legion has enough names for 25 slabs to be engraved, IntVeld said, close to the halfway point.

The names will not be separated into the various branches of military, but instead will run according to how they are received. That means men and women from the same family can be grouped together on one slab, such as the Puetz family, with their six men who served in the armed forces.

All six brothers are found on one slab as they made the minimum $125 donation to have their names included in the memorial, Anderson said.

Legion members first thought about putting names on bricks as has been done in other area communities. Plans were changed since they noticed people didn’t like stepping on veterans’ names, so it was opted to go with the granite slabs instead.

There will be an index inside the building to help find specific names. Wi-Fi will eventually go in as well since it’s planned to include veteran biographies as they are available. The index would include which names have biographies that can be read through a Wi-Fi connection, Anderson said.

It’s hoped the building will be constructed by spring. Then begins the work of hauling in dirt, planting grass and purchasing fountains for the water features to make this building even more spectacular.


Information from: Wahpeton Daily News, https://www.wahpetondailynews.com

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