His Hometown Didn’t Have a Veterans Monument, So This Teenager Built One Himself: NPR

0

Dominique Claseman stands in front of the memorial he built for his Eagle Scouts project.

Mark Jurgensen


hide caption

toggle caption

Mark Jurgensen


Dominique Claseman stands in front of the memorial he built for his Eagle Scouts project.

Mark Jurgensen

When 17-year-old Dominique Claseman discovered that his hometown of Olivia, Minnesota had no veterans’ memorial, he decided to take action.

Olivia is a small town that calls itself the “corn capital of the world” and many residents are veterans or relatives of veterans, Claseman said.

His father, grandfather and great-grandfather all served. “It’s just endless,” he said of his family’s military roots.

So when it came time for the teenager to pick a goal for his Eagle Scouts project, he decided to build Olivia her own veterans memorial.

A view of a statue and the carved paving stones of the completed memorial.

Mark Jurgensen


hide caption

toggle caption

Mark Jurgensen


A view of a statue and the carved paving stones of the completed memorial.

Mark Jurgensen

For his father, Mark Jurgensen, it was natural that his son had such ambitious plans. Jurgensen is the Scoutmaster of his son’s troop.

“I told Dominique when he started talking about his Eagle Scout project that because he was the Scoutmaster’s son, he had to grow up or go home,” Jurgensen said.

Claseman visited veterans’ memorials in nearby towns to research and brainstorm ideas, and then came up with a modest design.

“Initially, I only imagined a walkway with 21 steps and cobblestones on the side, and a main stone and some flags,” Claseman said.

He thought it would take around $15,000 to build, so he started fundraising.

The process of building the memorial.

Mark Jurgensen


hide caption

toggle caption

Mark Jurgensen


The process of building the memorial.

Mark Jurgensen

For Eagle Scout projects, applicants aren’t expected to use digital communications, Claseman said, so instead of using online charity fundraising sites, he launched leaflet campaigns and spoke at events. local events.

“Basically it was either word of mouth or door-to-door,” Claseman said.

But his methods worked. His community loved the idea of ​​a veterans memorial so much that they were willing to give much more than he expected.

By the time the fundraiser ended, he had raised exactly $77,777 for the project.

Claseman improved the design to accommodate the larger budget and set to work building it.

Wet cement dries during the construction of the memorial.

Mark Jurgensen


hide caption

toggle caption

Mark Jurgensen


Wet cement dries during the construction of the memorial.

Mark Jurgensen

The finished memorial was unveiled to the public on Memorial Day. It features 280 carved cobblestones leading to flag poles and seating areas, surrounded by landscape plants.

“By the time it was all said and done, he definitely got big,” laughed Jurgensen.

During the ceremony, his neighbors told him how much they appreciated what he had done for the city.

The unveiling ceremony of the memorial to the public.

Mark Jurgensen


hide caption

toggle caption

Mark Jurgensen


The unveiling ceremony of the memorial to the public.

Mark Jurgensen

“There was one person who came to see me and they said they were so happy to see it,” Claseman said. “They’ve been living in this town for 10-15 years and they’ve been waiting for something like this to happen.”

Claseman’s favorite part of the memorial are the 21 boot prints stamped into the concrete leading up to the flagpoles, designed to represent the 21-gun salute. His father helped him by donning the combat boots he wore when he served and making the prints.

Combat boots stand in front of the memorial.

Mark Yurgensen


hide caption

toggle caption

Mark Yurgensen


Combat boots stand in front of the memorial.

Mark Yurgensen

“It was nice to be able to be a part of it,” Jurgensen said. “Being a veteran myself, bringing that peace to other veterans, that their families have a place to go to remember their service or remember their loved ones.”

As for what’s next, Claseman said he’s already talking to his brothers about what they’ll be doing for their own Eagle Scouts projects.

Share.

Comments are closed.