Crowd welcomes new veterans memorial

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Attendees fill the street and lawns during the veterans memorial dedication ceremony in Ferdinand on Monday.

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

FERDINAND — Marine Corps veteran Leon Weyer can’t believe the veterans memorial he championed for Ferdinand last year is complete.

For years, Weyer wondered what to do with a strip of land near Pine Drive and visible from State Road 162 that he inherited from his father. About four years ago, he decided the land was perfect for a veterans memorial and started working with the Ferdinand American Legion, where he’s a member, and Seufert Construction to make the memorial a reality.

See a gallery of photos here.

On Monday, the memorial opened to the public with an opening ceremony attended by hundreds, including Sen. Mike Braun, town officials and veterans.

“It’s unbelievable,” Weyer said in a phone interview last week. “I had no idea that we would do what we did as quick as we did.”

Weyer made his idea public in June 2018 and relied on donations to make it a reality. In the year since, he said, the project has received donations from across Dubois County and the country, with people from states as far as Texas donating to the project. Weyer said he’s pretty sure those people have connections to the area.

Mike Kluesner of Huntingburg touches the Marine Corps monument during the veterans memorial dedication ceremony in Ferdinand on Monday. “My grandfather and my dad were both in the Army,” said Kluesner, who also served in the Coast Guard and Army Reserve. “It’s a true honor to having something like this in dedication to the services."

Not only did people donate enough funds to complete the project, but Weyer also had enough funding to set up a maintenance endowment for the memorial to ensure it exists for generations.

“It says a lot for the community and the area,” Weyer said.

In addition to the Ferdinand American Legion, the Town of Ferdinand and the Ferdinand Chamber of Commerce also partnered with Weyer on the project. The town provided curb and gutter work near the memorial to help with water drainage and parking, and the Chamber helped with the lettering engraved on the memorial stones and with putting up a welcome sign on the site. With that sign, the memorial will serve as a welcoming for people entering Ferdinand from the north.

“They’ll be able to see that and know that they’re in Ferdinand, and we support our veterans,” said Town Manager Chris James.

A veterans memorial is a good fit for Ferdinand. Weyer estimates that Ferdinand — a town with a population of about 2,200 — has over 300 veterans. The memorial will serve as a reminder to those veterans, as well as to any veterans who visit the town, that Ferdinand stands behind them and is grateful for their service.




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