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New memorial in Perham to be unveiled

Perham -- Perham is about to have its first permanent, physical tribute to local past, present and future servicemen and women.

After nearly a year in the works, the new Veterans Memorial at Perham Village Cemetery will be unveiled in a special ceremony at noon this Memorial Day.

The 20-minute ceremony will include a Presentation of Arms by the Perham VFW Post 4020, a short speech by Mayor Tim Meehl, a blessing by Pastor Rob Pesola and a release of 21 white doves. Minnesota National Guard members out of Moorhead will raise the flag.

The memorial represents a community effort to honor and remember the veterans who currently serve and have served in the United States Armed Forces.

Schoeneberger Funeral Home staff, who spearheaded the effort, said the city of Perham and the local VFW have shown strong support for it, as have numerous other individuals and organizations. In total, more than $9,000 was raised for the memorial, in the form of private donations, grants, and contributions from the city.

"It's very positive for our community," said the funeral home's co-owner, Steve Sheets, in an interview. "It's a way to recognize those that have fallen and those that are still in service."

According to information provided by Schoeneberger's office manager, Darla Medeck-Johnson, the idea for the memorial came about in May of last year. Funeral home staff had been working closely with Perham VFW members, who provide military honors at the gravesites of their fellow soldiers.

The VFW building was closed in 2003 after 57 years in existence. Though the members still meet at a local café, the closing of their building took away Perham's only physical reminder of veterans, funeral home staff said - and they felt it was past time for one.

"There just wasn't anything like it in Perham," said Sheets.

"The location needed to be easily recognized and accessible; a quiet place for a spouse, family member, or friend to sit and remember the sacrifices made by their loved one," explained Medeck-Johnson. "The Village Cemetery fit the criteria for such a memorial."

By June, the VFW had unanimously voted to support the project. Two months later, the city was also on board. And before long, others in town caught wind of the project and offered their support.

"The feedback from the public was that a local memorial would have a positive impact on the residents of Perham, as well as make a statement to visitors that we value, respect, recognize and re-member" veterans, according to the funeral home.

The size of the granite part of the memorial is 8.5 feet wide by 10 feet tall. There will also be a flag, two benches and flowers on site.