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Community builds memorial to honor those who served

DODGE CENTER, Minn. — Wind stirs the three flags flying high atop the Dodge Center Veteran's Memorial.

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Bill Ketchum, left, and Gary Trelstad led the effort to build the Dodge Center Veteran's Memorial.

DODGE CENTER — Wind stirred the flags flying high atop the Dodge Center Veteran's Memorial on Saturday as nearly 100 people gathered for a Field of Flags dedication.

Nearly 100 three foot by five foot flags on 10 foot poles were placed seven feet apart in a grassy area adjacent west of the memorial and will remain there until dusk on Tuesday.

For some, it was their first look at the new memorial, which has been in the works since 2012.

Six six-foot-tall black pillars, one each representing the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines, stand tall at the back of the memorial. Each is etched with an image that calls to mind sacrifice and service.

On the Army pillar, four soldiers are carrying an injured buddy and on the Marine Corps pillar, there is the iconic flag raising on Iwo Jima.


The idea for the veteran's memorial was born in the minds of Dodge Center Mayor Bill Ketchum and councilman Gary Trelstad.

"Gary and I started a half a dozen years ago," Ketchum said of their plans for the memorial.

It wasn't until a house on a corner lot adjacent to the city's aquatic center and tennis courts became available that the plan moved forward. The house was burned by the fire department in a training session and the property at the corner of Highway Street and First Avenue Northeast was purchased by the city.

It was in 2012 when Ketchum and Trelstad began talking to others in the community and on the city council about building a memorial to honor veterans in the corner lot. The idea was well-received and the Dodge Center Foundation, a newly reinvigorated group at the time, took the lead on fundraising for the $150,000 project.

There's still some money to raise, Ketchum said, in part to provide money for future maintenance. The flags, for example, will need to be replaced every three to four months.

A Minnesota flag, United States flag and POW-MIA flag fly at the site. An eagle sculpture, with wings outstretched in a v-shape, guards the front.

Twelve benches are within the memorial. They are $2,000 each and bear the names of service members and veterans.

There also is room for 300 pavers, Ketchum said. They are $300 each.


There are 108 at the memorial, Trelstad said, and 170 total sold. More space for pavers can be added.

The duo had an idea of what they wanted the memorial to look like and John Heerema, of Owatonna Granite, designed it.

Construction began with the placement of the eagle in December 2013. In July, the first phase of the project was completed.

Several area tradespeople donated labor and materials, Ketchum said.

In the spring, shrubs will be added to the memorial, and Ketchum and Trelstad have a vision for additional improvements.

A Memorial Day 2015 dedication is planned.

About a hundred people gathered at the Dodge Center Veterans Memorial for ceremonies Saturday afternoon.

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