By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Five flag poles, an eternal flame and battlefield cross sit at the new Veterans Park and War Memorial surrounded by veterans from all five branches of the armed forces.
The dedication ceremony Sept. 24 north of Henry Ford Centennial Library, 16301 Michigan Ave., celebrated the past, present and future those in the armed forces.
“This new park and memorial allows us to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and protect our country,” Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council Commander Sean Green said. “Veterans are owned a debt they have not been paid yet.”
Five flags were raised during the ceremony representing the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy.
“I enjoyed the flag ceremony because it’s becoming a thing of the past and you don’t see it as much anymore,” Navy veteran Nunzio Pipitone said. “I’m thankful for everyone who worked toward creating this great memorial.”
Glass panels stretch from the library to the sidewalk etched with dates of major conflicts in U.S. history with the number of who served in each conflict.
An eternal flame serves as the city’s remembrance of those who died in service.
“It’s beautiful to see that Dearborn cares about veterans,” Air Force veteran Nick Duncan said. “I loved the whole thing and looking at the big picture.”
A battlefield cross made up of a rifle stuck into boots and a helmet symbolizes honor and respect of the fallen created by other soldiers on a battlefield.
The walkways are lined with 24 newly planted cherry trees.
“They represent the 24 hours of the day service men and women are on watch,” Green said.
To make room for the memorial and park, the city had to remove the non-working marble fountain that once sat in front of the library.
The city created five benches with emblems of the five military branches using marble from the fountain.
“I hope everyone uses the library to educate themselves on the battles our men and women fought in,” Green said. “Especially the younger generation.”
A prisoner of war flag, purchased by Green himself, and American flag sit in the top center of the memorial, helping define the park.
The creation of the memorial and park was made possible after the former city hall property was purchased and transformed by Artspace into a residential community for artists.
A committee was put together where plans were created with designers and architects which included relocating the four seven-foot monoliths.
The monoliths are tributes to the 347 Dearborn men who sacrificed their lives fighting in World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War.
Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., praised the work of allied war veterans council, city council and library commission to get the project completed.
“We allowed the allied war veterans and library commission to work with designers for the plans of how the park and memorial show look,” he said. “This should bring more attention to the library and be a constant reminder of those who have served our country.”
Future additions are still planned including a peace labyrinth on the east side, an exhibit portraying the Arsenal of Democracy on the west and educational panels about the city’s contributions during military conflicts.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])