A solid honor for veterans

Published 1:11 am Thursday, September 9, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Wednesday was an exciting day for Lou Liebetrau and the rest of the Niles' Veterans Memorial Committee.
After years of work to get a war memorial project off of the ground, committee members gathered at the memorial site in Riverfront Park to get their first look at the actual monument.
On Wednesday morning, the granite monument, which was constructed by the Bentor Harbor-based St. Joe Monument Works, was delivered to the site. Using a crane, pieces of lite grey and polished black granite were stacked into place to form the monument's base.
Committee members have decided to wait until it gets closer to the Nov. 7 dedication ceremony to erect the entire monument. The finished monument, which is still awaiting the final column and globe, will stand about 22 feet tall.
Liebetrau's late husband William was a World War II veteran. She has always wanted to see a local war memorial in Niles.
She thinks the memorial will help the community to remember the important duties performed by the men and women of our country's military.
She began aggressively pursuing the project in the winter of 2001. Liebetrau found the community to be very receptive to the idea and soon had a committee of about 20 members helping the cause.
Liebetrau said she would not have been able to pull off such a successful fundraising campaign if it were not for the dedicated committee, which helped to raise more than $100,000.
Earlier this summer, work began to construct the pentagon-shaped memorial, which will encompass a 54-foot by 51-foot area of the downtown park.
Ray Phillips, a member of the committee and construction administrator for the University of Notre Dame, is overseeing the construction of the project. The Niles resident has been involved in the construction of war memorials in South Bend, Ind. and St Joseph.
With the foundation, footing and landscaping already in place, Phillips said construction will continue to progress as they near the Nov. 7 dedication date.
Next week, the flag poles will be installed. Six granite benches will be put into place the following week. And on Oct. 4, they will begin to lay the 3,000 brick pavers that will surround the monument.
Committee co-chair Mike Ellis was also excited to see the monument finally take shape and thinks Riverfront Park is the perfect home for the memorial.
Liebetrau extended her thanks to the community for their support of the project.