Monument Has a New War Memorial!

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Photo by Madissyn Moore

Michael Carlson (right) holding the certificate with Mayor Wilson (left).

By Madissyn Moore, Reporter

Michael Carlson, a junior at Palmer Ridge, began the process to build a war memorial after his freshman year. After his grandfather passed away, who was a veteran from WWII, his grandmother suggested that he construct a memorial for veterans as his Eagle Scout project. Finally, the almost 2-year long journey has reached its goal. The war memorial is finished! 

In a brief interview with Carlson before the dedication, he explained the process of getting the project started and all who helped him make this possible.

What made you decide to make this memorial?

My dad fought in Vietnam and my grandpa was a pilot radio operator in World War 2, so my grandma suggested I do a veterans memorial and that got me thinking. The headstone, which is a good sum of the price ($25,000), was actually donated to us. That was what got me to get the process started.

What were all of the donations you received from companies, organizations and other people?

We had to apply for two grants from the VFW organization, The Veterans of Foreign Wars. They donated $9,000 in grant money and our local post donated $1,000 out of their bank account. We got $500 from the American Legion, $200 from the Saints of Columbus, and then thousands and thousands of dollars from companies coming and donating labor.

The grand total for the project is $46,000. We started out by having the town actually offer to dig the ground up and get it set for us to build.

After that we got concrete footers poured in by a local landscaper. We only had to pay $100 for the footers because of this project, his usual price is $1,300. He did all the work and [his team] was phenomenal. Then we got C&C Set and Stone, they’d given us like $1,000 discount on the stones and everything for the project.

We had a landscaping company donate labor to help. They had donated about $2,000 of work to us. I’m actually a member of the VFW auxiliary, and my parents have connections to the national organization of VFW. That helped us get more grant money.

The plaque on the war memorial commemorating all who contributed to the project.

How long did the project take to be built?

The memorial itself has taken about a month [to be built]. I started the project a year and a half ago. I got it approved in June last year and since then we’ve been working hard on it.

Who do you hope comes to your dedication?

The mayor is coming, he was a marine. I am going to invite a family that was actually grieving someone; the grandfather is a WWII vet who was actually the first Air Force teacher in the whole country! Dr. Bramschreiber should be there as well.

How do you feel about your project?

I feel very ecstatic about it. At first, I did not think it was possible. I was like this is not going to go well, I do not like this. Please help. But now I’m kind of seeing the true potential and how everyone has been there for me to help me get through it and get it done.

What would maintaining the memorial look like?

We tried to make it as maintenance-free as possible. The only issues were putting cameras up because there has been vandalism of our church and our community. So we’re putting cameras up to ensure that doesn’t happen. It should be about 25 years maintenance-free. The plaque is only going to last about 25 years.

This past Saturday, October 3, was Carlson’s memorial dedication, and it could not have been a more beautiful day. The service began at 10 a.m. and ended at around 11:30 a.m.

It began with an introduction by Carlson’s scoutmaster, Lance Goraczkowksi, and later on, the Palmer Ridge Women’s Choir sang the Star-Spangled Banner. Carlson, later on, addressed all the people who donated toward his project:

  • Swan-Law Funeral Directors 
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation (VFW)
    • Aux. 101
    • Aux. 4051
    • Aux. 6461
    • Aux. 7829
    • Aux. 3917
    • Aux. 5221
  • C&C Sand  and Stone 
  • Gary & Heidi Dorobiala, Aspen Leaf Landscaping 
  • Town of Monument
  • Dulces (Juni) Granados
  • MSG William J. Crawford VFW Post 7289
  • Wilhelm Monument Company Creative Design Studio
  • American Legion Tri-Lakes Post 9-11
  • St. Peter Knights of Colombus Assembly #2594
  • Lance & Jamie Goraczowski
  • Joe & Kathy Carlson
  • Jeff & Sheryl Granger
  • Domino’s Pizza 
  • Bryce Hanes 
  • Michelle Knopp 
  • Mary Brown 
  • Colorado Laser Technologies, INC.

After Mayor Don Wilson accepted the gift, both Carlson and Mayor Wilson cut the ribbon and loud applause and cheers followed. Mayor Wilson is a veteran so he was personally touched by this memorial, “There’s a lot of pride for me in this and this project does a great job recognizing the veterans not only that are buried here at Monument Cemetery, but also the veterans in our community. We have one of the highest veteran population in the area,” Mayor Wilson said. Carlson’s project touched the lives of many families. 

Kathy Carlson and Michael Carlson. Photo by Madissyn Moore

Many who attended the dedication were proud to have such an amazing young man who cares about the veterans in his community. “My mom always taught me never say never, where there’s a will there’s a way and that is what he heard from me every time he would get discouraged. It was tough and it was hard especially for a freshman boy. I can’t tell you how proud I am,” Carlson’s mom, Kathy Carlson, said. 

Please be sure to visit the beautiful war memorial at Monument Cemetery. The hard work and dedication show clearly and words cannot possibly capture its beauty.  Thank you, Michael Carlson!