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It's almost done, but veterans need help



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Veterans enjoyed sharing stories with one another and patrons at the open memorial on April 7. Photo by T. Keiser (click for larger version)
April 11, 2012 - Sun shining, blue skies and the smell of spring in the air on, made for a good day at the Orion Veterans Memorial on April 7 as vets young and old handed out free coffee, donuts, and cookies at the Open Memorial event.

The open memorial was to help raise money for the four new monuments planned for installation. Three of the monuments will be installed and dedicated on the National Day of Prayer - May 3 - at 7 p.m. They each will be more than five feet tall. One recognizes the Purple Heart, one is for the Congressional Medial of Honor, and the third is the Fallen Warrior Monument.

The fourth monument will be a central monument in the memorial, which will consist of a family of four - A mother embracing her son, with the father behind the two of them and the his littler sister with her arm around her brother's waist.

"We don't know whether it's a safe homecoming, or he's departing," said Orion Veterans Memorial Chairman Joe Mastromatteo.

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The statute was thought of by the board of directors after months of research and suggestions he said. Weapons of war such as a tank, an airplane, or an arterially gun were also considered.

"We dispensed with all of those because they were symbols of war and we didn't want that. We wanted the most important thing and that of course is the family," he said. "Our nation was built on the family and its values, that's why we decided on that."

Though the memorial has been 19 years under development Mastromatteo said it's not uncommon when they get something done, for somebody to come up with another good idea.

"They're all good ideas," he said. "They just take money and time."

Vietnam Veteran Lee Uhl called the memorial "super."

"It's good and it will be a lot better here in the next couple of weeks as they put more monuments here," added Uhl. "It will be really great."

Navy Veteran and Park Manager Bob Watros called it "the most impressive (veterans) park in Oakland County and maybe even the state of Michigan."

"When we get these other four monuments done, I don't think it will be better anywhere," he said. "People like to come here and I think they feel good when they come here."

Mike Culverhouse who stopped by for a cup of coffee and to donate some money to the memorial said he's been there when no else is and he can "feel it."

"These veterans who have done so much for the country and are doing so much for this Orion Veteran memorial, we're proud of it," Culverhouse said. "These guys are the heroes."

Five ceremonies are held throughout the year to honor veterans. For more information call (248) 693-6636 or visit orionveteransmemorial.com

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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