OWOSSO — Owosso VFW Post 9455 members are raising funds to construct a memorial wall to honor veterans, auxiliary members and longtime supporters, both living and dead.
The project has been in the works since 2018, according to Vickie Conrad, president of the Owosso VFW Auxiliary, and once complete, the wall will feature approximately 42 bricks of black granite engraved to commemorate a specific individual or family.
The wall will be located east of the flagpole on the Owosso VFW grounds, 519 S. Chipman St., and will measure approximately 8 feet in length and 7 feet in height, according to Conrad. The foundation for the structure was poured in September 2019.
“It’s been quite a process for us, but we’re getting there,” she said. “I think it’s a very important thing for us to put up because it symbolizes all of the veterans at our post and the service that they’ve done.”
Combining the cost of labor and materials, the project will cost about $5,000, Conrad added, with construction tentatively slated to begin this spring.
Fundraising began in 2018, though it took time for the effort to really become organized, according to Auxiliary Treasurer Sandy Harvey.
Though the push for the wall has been a joint effort between the Auxiliary and the Post, the Auxiliary took primary control of the fundraising effort in mid-2019, and approximately $1,000 has been raised, according to Harvey, through various efforts such as bake sales, a percentage of the proceeds from regular breakfasts, burger nights, fish fries and taco nights at the Post.
The Owosso VFW has also received several donations from the families of deceased veterans, Conrad said.
The next fundraising effort for the project will be a euchre tournament at the post at 7 p.m Jan. 17, with all proceeds going toward the wall.
The cost to enter the tournament is $8, with signup beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the VFW.
Food and drinks will be available for purchase on site, and the evening will also feature a 50/50 raffle and door prizes, according to Auxiliary Senior Vice President Karen Horn.
“We’ve got to get this wall built because we’ve got all of these bricks laying in the bar, they’re against the wall in the bar, they’re beautiful, they’re all engraved,” Horn said. “We have the foundation for one wall poured, but if we get enough interest and enough people that want to buy more bricks, I think we would be willing to build another wall, with one on each side of the flagpole.”
Conrad said she’s confident construction for the wall will remain on schedule, and once members see the structure in place, she believes another wall will be added.
“It is going to start this year, I am going to see this wall go up no matter what,” Conrad said. “We’re pretty confident in donations and fundraising, we’re pretty confident that we can come up with the money to do it, to get the materials and to do it…I’m hoping in the future that we can sell more bricks and maybe do another wall in another year or so.”
For Horn, whose brother — Russell Rau — served in the Vietnam War, seeing the wall come to fruition is an absolute must.
“If I can honor one veteran, living or dead, I would love to do that because they deserve to be honored, they deserve the ‘thank yous,’ they deserve our respect,” Horn said. “None of us that are here know what they’ve gone through. They can tell us, they can write a book, we can read the book, but the feelings that they had when they were over there, doing what we needed them to do…I mean, they were young men, young healthy men that came back broken and damaged, for us, not for them. If we can honor them, that’s what we should do. I feel in my heart that’s what I want to do.
“My brother, his name will be on that wall,” Horn continued. “I’ve already bought his brick.”
For more information about the memorial wall or to make a donation, call the Owosso VFW at (989) 723-8655.