SOLON– Phil Michel thinks it speaks volumes about how the community of Solon honors its veterans.
Michel and his crew assembled at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, at the Solon Veterans Memorial to lower a 10,000-pound granite arch by crane onto two pedestals, essentially completing a project started three years ago.
The monument, designed and constructed by Memorials by Michel for the Solon American Legion Stinocher Post No. 460, bears the names of 295 Solon-area veterans on black granite slabs situated around a POW/MIA marker. The gray granite arch bears the emblems for each branch of the U.S. military and forms the entrance.
“It’s an awesome accomplishment for a city this size,” observed Jean Stinocher of the Solon American Legion Auxiliary.
The auxiliary had come up with the idea of a veterans memorial for the community and brought it to the Solon Legion for approval. The auxiliary also dedicated funds raised at Beef Days and other events to the $140,000 undertaking.
A committee was formed in 2008 and the fundraising began. The committee members– Max Seaton (chair), Stinocher, Larry Swann, Pete Engledow, Virgil Holub, Jack Coady, Janie Holub, Wayne Anderson, Rita Brannaman, Wayne Croy and Rich Hellwig– hosted five breakfasts a year, held a silent and live auction, garage sales and accepted donations from the general public. “We tried a lot of different things to raise the money,” Stinocher said. “We have raised $140,000 within a four-year period. It started out being a five-year project.”
With the erection of the arch last week, the memorial is completed, with the exception of some landscaping and perhaps some benches, Stinocher said.
“It’s taken a lot of work and a lot of time,” she added.
Stinocher credited Michel for his work on the memorial. “He helped us out a lot.”
Memorials by Michel had created several other veterans memorials, including a recent Civil War monument in Muscatine. “They wanted something different,” Michel said of the Solon committee.
Bonnie Duckett, the artist/designer for Memorials by Michel, created the design selected by the committee, and Michel submitted it to his suppliers. “We worked with them to make sure it was feasible and would work structurally,” he explained.
The black granite came from India; the gray from Buttura & Gherardi Granite Artisans of Barre, Vermont.
Francis Tesh, an independent installer of larger granite monuments, also from Vermont, was assisted by the Memorials by Michel crew in assembling the arch and its pedestals– a six-hour task.
“We went by this morning,” Michel said of the veterans memorial. “It looks really sharp. To see the finished product– it’s very impressive. You do all these drawings and you hope everything turns out perfect and it did.”
The amount of money raised by a community the size of Solon says a lot about how residents feel about veterans, he noted.
“I think everyone saw it was something special.”
According to Stinocher, the Legion will host a dedication for the memorial in the spring of 2012. It will also be next year before the committee hosts another fundraiser, this time to help cover the ongoing costs of lighting and maintenance.
Solon-area veterans who are current or former members of the Solon American Legion and have been honorably discharged are eligible for the monument at a cost of $100.
The memorial has room for approximately 1,000 names.
For more information, contact the Solon American Legion at 624-2277.