BY GABE LICHT
MONTROSE, MN Elvis tribute artist Anthony Shore is returning to Delano American Legion Post 377 for the Elvis Rock-n-Soul show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 13.
This time, he’s bringing a full band including a horns section, a saxophonist, and eight backup soul singers.
And, this time, proceeds will go toward the construction of the Wright County Veterans Memorial on the VFW Post 1901 site at 300 Zephyr Ave., Montrose.
Members of the Honor Project Committee have been working with VFW members to plan the memorial since late 2016.
“I was back home (in Illinois) last fall, and they have a wall that has etched in it all the veterans from my hometown,” committee member Patty Youmans said. “ . . . Shortly after that, I was thinking the guys here at the VFW put out crosses every Memorial Day . . . It’s too hard for them. I thought, ‘Man, this would be so nice to have this wall for these guys.’”
Her thought was that veterans could sit on a bench near the memorial to “just think or have peace.” Rather than having Scouts put wreaths on crosses, as they do currently, they could put flags in the ground surrounding the memorial, she thought.
Youmans shared her ideas with her husband, Greg, and friends Wade and Tracy Gurneau while out for dinner together in December.
“A few weeks after that, Amy Johnson from Delano had reached out to Tracy through an email and said, ‘Anthony Shore is going to be at the Delano Legion in May. I would like to donate these proceeds to a veterans group. Do you know of anyone looking for help?’” Youmans said. “And, it took off from there.”
Northland Monument, of Longville, is designing the memorial. It will include a large granite monument featuring the five branches of the US military on the interior. On the interior of two smaller monuments will be the names of the VFW and VFW Auxiliary members, respectively. Exteriors of the three monuments will feature the names of Wright County veterans.
The monuments will be positioned in a semicircle with benches surrounding a to-be-determined memorial and pavers dubbed the honor walk.
Individuals or families can purchase a 4-inch-by-8-inch paver with two engraved lines of up to 20 characters each for $125 or an 8-inch-by-8-inch paver with three engraved lines for $150. Organizers envision many of those pavers featuring tributes to loved ones and veterans.
Businesses and organizations are also being asked to sponsor the project. All sponsors who donate at least $100 will be recognized in promotional materials. Silver-level sponsors who donate $500 to $999 will receive a 4-inch-by-8-inch paver with one engraved line. Gold-level sponsors who donate $1,000 to $1,499 will receive a 4-inch-by-8-inch paver with two engraved lines. Platinum-level sponsors who donate $1,500 or more will receive an 8-inch-by-8-inch paver with three engraved lines.
Local businesses or organizations may also donate materials for the project.
Monetary donations may be sent to VFW Post 1901 Honor Project, PO Box 278, Montrose, MN 55363.
Patty Youmans noted some donations have already been accepted.
Organizers are also looking into the possibility of grant funds to help cover the estimated cost of at least $30,000.
Wade Gurneau said he expects the project to take about two years to come to fruition.
“It could go faster; it could go slower,” he said.
“Our veterans at the VFW here are really intent on this,” Patty Youmans said. “They would like to get it up and running as soon as possible so they can stop using the crosses.”
When the memorial is complete, Wade Gurneau believes it will be a fitting tribute to the county’s veterans.
“My point of view on this is every veterans needs to have some sort of voice,” he said. “They’re not going to step up and say, ‘I’m a vet.’ This is a way to honor every veteran in Wright County if they so wish to be put on this monument. I think just having a tribute to their dedication and service is pretty much monumental.”
For more information, follow the link at www.delanoheraldjournal.com; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or call Greg Youmans at (612) 597-3637, Patty Youmans at (612) 597-3693, or Tracy Gurneau at (612) 559-7411.