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In 2001, there was a strong desire to memorialize Washington County’s local heroes who served in our country’s military, in times of war and peace.  A committee, co-chaired by Mick Mines and Bud Robinson, formed to advance the memorial.  Committee members have included: Pat Hunsche, Carl Lorenzen, Jim Ryan, Gayle Maine, George Jipp, Joe Peterson, Nate Dougherty, Mark Hodson, Dr. Milt Heinrich, Scott Bovick, T. John Shotwell, Max West, Dutch Klotz, Ray Polley, Dave Brown, Hal Jensen, Lonnie Tourek, and Don Woodhull.

The capital campaign kicked-off on November 11, 2003, led by Brigadier General Carl Lorenzen (retired) and Colonel Jim Ryan (retired).  Honorary chairs were Senator Chuck Hagel, Senator Bob Kerrey, Hugh Hunt, Major General Roger P. Lempke, and Fred Wittlinger.  Those active in raising funds include: John Abbott, Rusty Bahr, Blake Dillon, Mike Earleywine, Gary Fanoele, Hal Jensen, Eric Johnson, Gayle Maine, Mick Mines, Rick Plugge, and Brad Taylor were active in raising funds. 

Without the continuing commitment from the City of Blair, this project would not have been possible.  The mayors, city councils, and administration have been selfless in their support and vision throughout the development and construction of Veterans Tribute Plaza.  Special thanks are extended to the American Legion Post #154 for their administrative support, and the Blair Area Community Foundation for facilitating contributions and allowing donors to make tax-deductible gifts to benefit this project.

From the initial meetings, it was clear that the centerpiece of the Plaza should include two elements; a wall engraved with the names of local veterans, and a freestanding sculpture to symbolize the sacrifices made by those who served, as well to celebrate our freedom.  In consultation with artist, Dr. Milt Heinrich, and Joe Peterson, Schmidt Monument Company, the committee decided on a Plaza design created by the Council Bluffs, IA architectural firm, HGM Associates Inc.

Other elements of the final design include Walk of Flags, with the American flag leading the way followed by the flags of each branch of the US Armed Forces, and the POW/MIA flag.  An Arbor welcomes visitors at the east entrance to the memorial, and a black granite Donor Stone, recognizes the generosity of contributors to the memorial.

Construction of Veterans Tribute Plaza was in three phases using the “PAY-AS-WE-GO” system.  Phase I, completed in October 2007, included the memorial’s infrastructure; the Walk of Flags, signage, landscaping, electrical, concrete work, benches, etc.  Phase II was dedicated November 11, 2008 following installation of the Wall of Honor and the Arbor.  Phase III is in the planning stage and a capital campaign will be announced in 2009.  This final phase will add a sculpture to the center of the Wall of Honor.  An electronic kiosk is being planned so visitors can locate veterans’ names on the Wall of Honor, and provide detailed information about each veteran.


The plaza began to move forward when American Legion Post #154 and Sapp Bros. donated tracts of land for the memorial.  A preliminary design was funded by the City of Blair.  Since then, more than $425,000 has been raised entirely from generous private contributions from corporations, foundations, unions, veterans and civic organizations, and almost 500 individuals.  Additionally, in-kind contributions of time, materials, and services have been received from many  generous supporters.