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Democracy

15-year-old thought his town needed a veterans' memorial. So he raised $77,000 to make it happen.

The memorial is a beautiful tribute.

dominique claseman, olivia minnesota, veterans' memorial

An American flag and a POW flag flying high at the Antietam National Cemetery in Sharpsburg, Maryland.

The Eagle Scout Service Project is the culmination of a Scout’s leadership training and requires considerable effort. The project is to demonstrate the Scout’s leadership abilities while also creating something that benefits their local community.

Boyd Huppert's "Land of 10,000 Stories” highlighted the incredible leadership skills of Eagle Scout Dominique Claseman of Olivia, Minnesota, who, at the age of 15, realized that his hometown needed a veteran’s memorial. So he decided his Eagle Project would be to build one.

“I wanted to show more appreciation in a bigger way,” Claseman, who comes from a long line of people who served their country, told Huppert.

Olivia’s mayor Jon Hawkinson was a little skeptical when the 15-year-old presented his plans for the memorial. “He had architect drawings, he had the space picked out,” the mayor told Huppert. “He knew there would be people in our community who would want to donate to something like this.”


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Claseman got to work selling paving stones to veterans’ families and soliciting donations from local businesses and organizations. All his hard work paid off and he wound up raising a whopping $77,000 for the monument. "It was more than I could imagine," Claseman told the West Central Tribune.

Claseman broke ground on the project at Kubesh Park on April 27 and the memorial was finally ready for the community for the dedication ceremony on Memorial Day.

"Dom, on behalf of the community of Olivia, thank you for your Americanism, dedication to decency and vision," Hawkinson said at the ceremony.

"The memorial before you is a result of the generous support I and the veterans of our community have received,” Claseman said, according to the West Central Tribune

"Memorial Day is our nation's solemn reminder that freedom is never free," National Guard Major Andrew Lang said at the ceremony. "It is a moment of collective reflection of the noblest of sacrifices of those who gave their very last measure of devotion in service to our ideals and in defense of our great nation."

The memorial marker reads:

"Dedicated to the courageous brothers and sisters from our community who served our country in times of peace and war. We thank them for their service, especially those who gave their lives in that service. May God grant them all eternal peace.”

The memorial features a walk of honor with footprints from a soldier’s boots. On both sides are black and gray slabs that feature the names of 280 people from the Olivia area who served their country as well as those who donated to the project. The walkway ends at a 21-foot circle with the memorial stone surrounded by four benches where people can commemorate those who sacrificed for their country.

Behind the memorial are three flags, the American flag, a POW flag and the flag of the state of Minnesota.

The memorial is a beautiful tribute to those who served their country but Claseman says it isn’t finished yet. He hopes that his two younger brothers will one day expand the memorial for their Eagle Scout projects.

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