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Cottage Grove plans 'simple' veterans' memorial with strong message

Cottage Grove leaders set a goal for the city's first veterans memorial: a monument that honors residents who have served and reflects the place they call home. 

"We know the people that are our neighbors," said John Burbank, a senior city planner who worked with the Veterans Memorial Committee that drew up concept plans for the memorial. "We're not elaborate-type people."

City Council members last week approved designs for a memorial that Burbank called "real simple in design," to be constructed outside the new city hall and public safety building that the city is set to break ground on this fall.

"In Cottage Grove, finally, we [will] have a memorial and a monument to [veterans]," said Mayor Myron Bailey.

The 15-member committee of local veterans' organizations, police and fire department representatives and other residents came up with a site officials say will honor the military's five branches - the Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy and Army - as well as police and fire veterans.

Encircling a small fountain engraved with a quote from poet Maya Angelou - "How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and sheroes!" - the memorial will feature the United States, Minnesota and POW/MIA flags, along with flags representing each branch of the military; five native limestone benches around the perimeter of the memorial engraved with each branch's motto; five bronze medallions honoring each branch; and a limestone block near the U.S. flag emblazoned with another message.

"It's simple," Bailey said. "And it sends a message."

The city will now draw detailed plans for the memorial to be included in the city hall project when it is opened for bidding Friday.

Burbank said most of the memorial would be funded as part of the existing project budget; the memorial committee will work to raise the additional estimated $13,500 needed.

Officials said that could be done, at least in part, through the sale of personalized pavers that would be placed around the memorial.

The city will open the memorial on Veterans' Day in November 2012.