Veterans Memorial Garden taking shape

Merrill barber and veteran LeRoy Fischer is starting to see his dream of a veterans memorial become a reality, thanks to support from the community, local businesses and veterans groups.

The project got rolling after Fischer obtained the canon that had sat in front of the former Merrill City Hall for decades. The canon was given to Merrill Mayor D.B. Reinhart by Congressman A.P. Nelson in 1920.

Fischer’s idea was to have the canon refurbished and put on display as a tribute to local veterans. St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church joined the effort by donating a portion of its cemetery to not only display the canon, but to build the memorial and provide burial plots for veterans.

The canon, more than a century old, was refurbished by John Hanson, who is also the sexton for the St. Francis Cemetery. The canon now sets in its new home at the memorial garden. The concrete work, done with the assistance of members of the Vietnam Vets MC, is completed. The flag poles, paid for by American Legion Post 42 of Merrill, are also standing.

In the area around the memorial, 135 burial plots are being reserved specifically for veterans and their spouse. The site of the memorial is located on the southeast end of the St. Francis Xavier Cemetery. Memorial tiles may be purchased for $50 each and are 8″x12″ and will be engraved with the veteran’s name, years of service and branch of the military. Veterans both living and deceased can be memorialized with a tile.

To purchase tiles or to make donations toward the memorial, contact LeRoy Fischer at LeRoy’s Hair Care Center, 724 E. 2nd St., Merrill, 715-536-2345. All donations should be made payable to St. Francis Xavier Cemetery Veterans Memorial.

A land dedication ceremony will be held at the cemetery on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, as St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church will be dedicating the land to the veterans. Merrill Police Department, Merrill Fire Department, and representatives from federal politicians are expected to participate.

The dedication of the memorial itself is slated for Memorial Day 2012.

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