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Memorial Wall is a lasting place of honor for area veterans

Just how does someone get their name on the Memorial Wall?

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Fergus Falls Monument Company staff update the Memorial Wall in Wadena's Veterans Park with new names in May 2022.
Contributed photo
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WADENA — About 200 new names were added to the solid granite walls that rest at the center of Wadena's Veterans Park.
They joined several thousand others that have been added in the last decade at the solemn site tucked along Hwy 10 and Whisky Creek, on the east side of Wadena.
The names are from those veterans who have served and since died, many in combat. Others peacefully passed more recently.

Wadena County Veterans Service Officer David Anderson has been actively involved in the work of building and growing the Veterans Park along with many others. He explained that the process of gathering these names involves families sharing the names, combing through obituaries weekly as well as extensive searching through cemeteries to make a list of all veterans there to find out if any have been missed. Fergus Falls Monument does the work of adding names each time.
"This is what we wanted to do when we did this. We wanted to be able to honor all veterans who have passed away in Wadena County and surrounding areas," Anderson said.
Volunteers were on site replacing the wind-tattered flags at the park on Wednesday, May 25, just a few days before Memorial Day. They commented that they had plans of visiting a nearby cemetery at Mt. Nebo soon to update that portion of the walls. It's a process handled by volunteers, and more volunteers are needed.

Most cemeteries in the northern part of Wadena County as well as the city of Wadena have been searched through. Wadena has over 700 listed on the wall. The walls, tall black monuments set at angles that point to the flags at the center of the park, include names within Wadena County like Sebeka, Nimrod, Thomastown and even some outside of the county, like Bertha and Bluffton.
You can tell which names were added first. They are at the top with all names in alphabetical order. Those added are listed out of alphabetical order because once the names are etched in the granite, they are there for good.

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Wadena Veterans make up six panels of the Memorial Wall in Wadena. Others include cities and cemeteries throughout the county and surrounding communities.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

Anderson explained that names are added about every two years. Sometimes many are added after a group of people walk an area cemetery and find new names to add. Some head stones are barely even visible anymore. Other times a family stops by the park and notices a family member is not among the names and contacts Anderson or another member of the Veterans Park committee to get on the list.
Surrounding the walls are benches placed with generous donations from area families. The park is lined with pavers, which also list veterans, their rank and the years they served. Anyone can have a veteran paver placed there at a cost of $125. There is no cost to be placed on the Memorial Wall.
Anderson looks around and finds family member names on the wall and on pavers. He remembers them each time he visits the park and appreciates what they did for his country.

Changes are being made to the Wadena Veterans Park as work continues on the memorial. The design has changed due to a discovery of a high water table in the park. The flag pole has been moved to a different location on the south side of Sunnybroo...

Anderson said the pavers and benches are a great way to give a gift of honor to a veteran. Donations and commemorative purchases enable the Veterans Memorial Park to give recognition to men and women in the armed forces.

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Al and Kathy Lorentz, Leo Kempf and David Anderson work to raise a new American flag over the Veterans Park in Wadena.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

He's currently working extensively on an indoor museum next to the monuments where there are displays of military uniforms, photos, letters, a blown shell, and even WWI models he builds himself. The museum will be open Memorial Day through Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The park itself is largely the brain child of local veteran David Ludovissie.
The park will eventually include military hardware on display near Highway 10. The group has already secured a truck from the Army and hopes to see that installed yet this year.
For more information and to order pavers or benches, call Anderson at (218) 631-7617.

Related Topics: WADENAVETERANSWADENA COUNTY
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