Group plans concert to benefit Lennon veterans memorial

LENNON — Veterans and other community members in Lennon are hosting a concert to raise money for a Lennon Area Veterans Memorial Park, which they hope to develop.

The group behind the push, The Friends of Doyle Knight, is trying to raise $100,000 for the memorial downtown. The group already purchased a vacant lot on Lennon Road near the railroad tracks.

Doyle Knight was the first person from Lennon to lose his life in World War II, according to Don Austin, one of the group’s members.

“Back in the 1950s when they were building a new school for Lennon they decided to name it after him so he would not be forgotten, and since there’s no longer a Doyle Knight Elementary, our group decided to name our committee after him because we didn’t want him or his name to be forgotten.

The group has already conducted several events this year, including a spaghetti dinner. They are getting ready for what members hope is their largest fundraising event yet — The Lennon Area Veterans Memorial Rock ‘n’ Roll Dance.

The concert and dance will be at the Durand VFW, 923 N. Saginaw St., Sept. 14. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the event runs from 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $20. There will be food and drinks available for purchase, a 50/50 raffle, silent auction and cash bar. All proceeds from the event will go toward building the memorial.

The group, Durand Veterans of Rock ‘n’ Roll, will perform. Group members are mostly longtime friends who get together to play benefit concerts, including one a few years ago in Durand that benefited the Durand Veterans Memorial.

“We’ve printed 400 tickets we’re hoping for a really good turnout,” Austin said.

Austin was raised in Lennon and is a Vietnam War veteran. He was drafted shortly after high school.

“To start with, when I got my orders to go to Vietnam it wasn’t that big of a deal because my job classification was electronics specialist. I was supposed to have a job somewhere fixing electronic equipment. It didn’t work out that way and I ended up in the First Infantry Division, Charlie Company, Second Battalion, 16th Infantry carrying a radio on my back,” Austin said. “In fact, Oct. 25 there’s a movie coming out about my company.”

“The Last Full Measure” is about a helicopter pilot who was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving lives during the Vietnam War.

Austin helped get veterans memorials built in Swartz Creek and at Mott Lake in Genesee County.

The Friends of Doyle Knight already have a design in mind for the memorial, which will be Michigan-themed and feature flag poles from each branch of the service.

Village President Barbara BakerOmerod said she likes the idea and said the village is fully behind a veterans memorial.

“Honoring veterans of every war is a great idea and it would be great if the memorial is built,” she said. “They’ve been working hard at this for a number of years and if they’re able to get the money together to do what they planned, it would be really great for Lennon. From what I have seen the plans look beautiful.”

The Friends of Doyle Knight is asking Lennon residents and natives who lost family members or loved ones in service to contact the group so veterans can be included on the memorial.

To contact the group, call Austin at (810) 624-1988.

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