Teen Dominique Claseman created and crafted a town’s veterans memorial


Significant university senior Dominique Claseman grew up listening to the stories of his father and other spouse and children members who served in the U.S. armed service.

“I required them all to be honored,” mentioned Claseman, 17. The teenager stated it commenced to bother him that his compact city of Olivia, Minn., didn’t have a memorial to realize veterans. Around the decades, some men and women in town had place up a number of rocks and indicators in help of veterans, but for Claseman, it was not more than enough.

When it was time for him to come up with an notion for his Eagle Scout job two years in the past, he realized what he required to do for the city. Olivia is a farming local community of about 2,500 people today that is 90 miles from the Minneapolis-St. Paul location and recognised as the “Corn Funds of the Planet.”

“I believed it’s possible I could elevate $12,000 to $15,000 to get a memorial constructed in the park,” he mentioned. He soon recognized the venture would be a great deal larger than that.

The undertaking started when Claseman and his mothers and fathers, Mark and Wendy Jurgensen, took him to war memorials in other cities to give him a feeling of how they looked. Mark Jurgensen is Claseman’s scoutmaster and experienced served in Iraq with the Army National Guard.

Claseman let the town and nearby places know about his plan by currently being interviewed at community radio stations and handing out brochures. He then went doorway-to-doorway to nearby firms. Persons were receptive.

“When persons recognized I was significant about performing this, it commenced to acquire off,” Claseman reported. Quickly the donations commenced to pour in. Folks in Olivia and encompassing towns chipped in pretty much $77,000 — about six times his authentic intention.

Most of the cash came from people that donated $250 for each and every stone paver they wanted to have inscribed with a veteran’s name. “Everyone commenced considering, ‘Holy cow — he’s seriously going to do it,’ ” claimed Jurgensen, 43.

A employee paused to assistance obtain a lacking female. He found her midsection-deep in a stream.

Claseman drew a tough sketch of what he envisioned for the memorial — a walkway with 21 boot actions, pavers with veterans’ names, flags and a memorial stone with the branches of military services assistance. He blended some of the favorite designs he’d viewed at other memorials, then took his sketch to his grandfather Jim Czech, who is effective as a contractor and architect in the location. Czech weighed in with some ideas.

“As extra donations came in, the options grew, also,” Claseman claimed. “After we reached $15,000, and extra money kept coming, I imagined, ‘Hey — I can make this a large amount more substantial.’ ”

By Might, the finalized blueprint was made for a prolonged walkway foremost to a stone monument and 4 granite benches in a 21-foot circle representing the 21 boot steps the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns walks. The memorial also would incorporate flagpoles and Army helmet sculptures in honor of two regional guys who died in Iraq.

A neighborhood crew volunteered to pour the concrete if Claseman would obtain the materials. Then his father walked throughout the moist cement in his Military boots to total a wander of honor with 21 footprints, Claseman said. A granite organization from Richmond, Minn., was employed to make the benches and the stone monument.

Then he and his spouse and children joined other associates of his Scout troop to place in the landscaping and put in 280 inscribed granite pavers alongside the walkway. It took them three weekends, he said. “There were being about 10,000 lbs . of rock, so, yeah, it was a good deal of get the job done,” Claseman reported.

She gained the lottery. Then she shared her windfall with strangers.

After two a long time of fundraising, designing and sweat fairness, the monument was focused this calendar year on Memorial Working day. The group was impressed that a teen experienced pulled off these kinds of a large accomplishment, said Jon Hawkinson, mayor of Olivia. “Dom’s project proved to us that when creativity satisfies ambition, excellent things can occur,” he mentioned.

On Memorial Working day, a number of hundred folks turned out to devote the monument and marvel at the names of all of the veterans with ties to Olivia.

“A good deal of persons had been very psychological,” Claseman mentioned. “It was the appropriate time for anything like this. Since so a lot of veterans are now deceased, this was a time for people today to relive some memories and rejoice their family.”

Wendy Jurgensen reported it was rewarding to see her son’s group task arrive alongside one another. “He surely has his head set in which he wishes it,” explained Jurgensen, 34. “He is familiar with what he desires and sticks to it.”

Marjorie Barber, 91, arrived to keep in mind her uncle — a Environment War I veteran who died at age 21 — and more than a dozen relatives who served all through Entire world War II, like her late husband, Leo Barber.

“We have 17 users of my household on the memorial — virtually all are absent, a number of are continue to dwelling,” stated Barber, who contributed $250 for her husband’s paver, with other household users chipping in for the relaxation of the family stones. “We in no way experienced a area to bear in mind our veterans prior to, so what Dominique did is truly superb and uplifting for our town.”

“To believe that a youthful kid took on this duty is genuinely impressive,” she extra. “On the day of the dedication, I gave him a hug and explained to him that I felt like I was his grandmother. I’m just so proud of him.”

She just received approved to health-related college. She’s 13.

Kim Wertish reported her son, James Wertish, was killed in a mortar attack in Iraq though serving with the Military Nationwide Guard in 2009 when he was 20. Wertish, 60, contributed cash to purchase markers for her son and two comrades who have been killed in the attack. “Seeing their names there — it is just seriously gorgeous,” she mentioned. “My spouse and I really like to journey and have stopped at a whole lot of various memorials, but this one is extra distinctive.”

“I’m really grateful to [Dominique] for stepping up to spearhead this,” Wertish added.

The memorial in Olivia is the major undertaking carried out by a area Eagle Scout in latest memory, reported Aaron Russell, district government for the Northern Star Council, a Scouting firm that serves youths in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

“I was definitely amazed as Dom held blasting via his targets,” Russell mentioned. “It appeared like each and every week his mom would text me updates, with much more and additional donations coming in.”

Claseman’s challenge will be a challenging 1 to follow, but his two brothers, Jayden Claseman, 15, and Ahren Jurgensen, 13, are ready in the wings to consider, he stated.

“This is not the stop of it — my brothers can increase to the memorial for their possess Eagle projects,” he claimed. “They’ll hopefully insert additional pavers and additional statues. There is a lot much more we can do.”

On the Fourth of July, he mentioned, he was thrilled to see his buddies and neighbors savoring the memorial and shelling out their respects. “Everyone came alongside one another for the veterans,” Claseman explained. “That’s what this is all about.”

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