By CHRIS JACKETT
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – The limestone statue of a World War II soldier carrying another soldier on Superior Boulevard, west of Biddle Avenue, was due for a facelift after 67 years.
Recently bronzed to ensure longevity, the statue and the Purple Heart Memorial Garden it is located in will have a public rededication ceremony 4 p.m. tomorrow. Wyandotte is the first city in the country to which the National Military Order of the Purple Heart commissioned and donated such a monument.
“People don’t even know that that statue existed,” said Wyandotte Special Projects Coordinator Natalie Rankine, hoping the ceremony will help raise awareness.
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick, D-Detroit, will present an American flag that flew over the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., to Mayor Joseph Peterson for use in the newly dedicated garden.
After local Vietnam Purple Heart recipient Dave Polczynski approached the city’s Beautification Commission to help restore the crumbling statue, more than $250,000 has been raised for the statue bronzing and garden rededication. A large portion of the funds came from selling more than 500 engraved paver bricks for $100 each and from donations of many sponsors, such as the students at nearby Garfield Elementary School, who raised $1,200 and will lead the pledge of allegiance at the rededication.
“They were the only local school that fundraised,” Rankine said. “We could not have picked a worse time to fundraise. When we got the donation from National Military Order of the Purple Heart, that really helped along.”
Various city veteran organizations will conduct a flag-raising ceremony with help from the Boy Scouts and active duty servicemen from each branch of the military. The Roosevelt High School a capella choir and the Marching Chiefs will perform patriotic music while the flags are posted and arrangements also have been made through Yankee Air Force Museum for a B-25 military flyover during the Memorial Day ceremony.
“We have had people come out of the woodworks to be involved,” Rankine said. “It has just been a real good grass-roots community effort. It has been a really good example of the Wyandotte community coming together.”