Long-awaited monument unveiling Nov. 7
Published 5:46 am Saturday, October 23, 2004
By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The Niles Veterans War Memorial is under wraps for now.
Members of the Veterans Memorial Committee placed a protective cover over the monument after it was completed Friday.
The memorial will be dedicated and unveiled in a special ceremony on Nov. 7, nearly a year after the ground breaking for it.
The base of the monument was installed at the memorial site on Sep. 10 by the Benton Harbor-based St. Joe Monument Works, which constructed the entire monument.
Friday, workers from the company used a crane to lift and set the solid granite pieces which made up the remainder of the monument. The final pieces of the monument included a pillar which weighed almost 7,000 pounds, a granite block and a large 1,800 pound globe.
The globe pictures all the continents of the world and features a gold star which indicates the location of Niles.
The globe was hand-etched by Bill Cooper, owner of St. Joe Monument Works. Cooper said the globe took about 60 to 70 hours of work to complete.
Bill's wife, Genie, designed the emblems of the five armed forces which appears on the monument. She also created the stencils used to etch the bricks which surround the monument.
All 1,905 bricks which have names inscribed on them, and the emblems on the memorial were etched using a sandblaster and special rubber stencils.
Genie said the bricks alone took several weeks of working seven days a week to complete.
Veteran Memorial Committee co-chair Lou Liebetrau described the completed memorial simply as, "awesome."
Liebetrau said she receives calls everyday from veterans thanking her for her efforts to get the monument constructed.
Dan Sullivan, 79, a World War II Navy veteran, walks two miles along the riverfront everyday and has watched the memorial take shape.
The monument, which now stands 21.5 ft. tall, is surrounded by the five flags of the branches of the armed forces, and the American flag.
Flood lights and the base of the flag pole will illuminated the stars and stripes from below.
Mike Ellis, co-chair of the memorial committee, placed the shroud over the monument after the globe was set in place. Ellis is the individual who created the final design for the memorial.
Ellis' family has a long tradition of military service dating back to the Civil War, when his great-grandfather was a "coal-heaper" aboard the Monitor, a Civil War battleship.
Elvis tribute artists Irv Cass and Quentin Flagg will perform, along with country singer Jeffrey Allen Roberts.
Tickets for the concert will be $12 for adult general admission and $5 for children 12 years and younger.
Liebetrau described the completion of the memorial as the end of a labor of love.