The first shovel-full of dirt hits the ground

HARTINGTON – The first shovel of dirt was turned Saturday on the new Hartington Area Veterans’ Memorial.

A sparse crowd of mask-covered area residents attended Saturday’s ground-breaking event as state-mandated COVID-19 restrictions are still in place here.

The memorial will be built on land donated by Hartington veterinarians Dr. Ben and Dr. Erin Schroeder. It is located at the southeast corner of Broadway Avenue and State Street in downtown Hartington.

Fittingly, the memorial is being built atop the home of the former Hartington VFW.

“I stood right here on this spot and took my oath,” Dwayne Arens said about the day he joined the service.

Veterans’ Memorial Chairman Dan Kathol organized the event and acted as the emcee for the 40-minute program. Hartington Mayor Mark Becker, Cedar County Veterans’ Services Officer Scott Stanton, Hartington VFW Commander Dean McGregor and Dale Powers of Plainview Monuments also spoke during the ceremony. 

Kathol gave a brief description of what the proposed monument will look like, then passed around an artist’s rendering of the completed project.

Kathol said the goal is to have new dirt in place for the memorial and raise it to street level some time this year. The hope is to have the memorial completely finished in time for Veterans’ Day of 2021, he said.

Kathol has put in a lot of work on this project and that work shouldn’t go unnoticed, Mayor Becker said.

“I want to thank Dan Kathol and our local veterans for spear-heading this project,” Becker said after the presentation.

During his brief speech to onlookers Saturday, Becker said the memorial honors some great people — people that need to be remembered. 

“Our veterans helped build our local community, and we asked they fought for our freedoms and defended our country,” he said. “When they returned home, they helped build our community with hard work, sacrifice and faith in God. They raised families, started businesses, built our churches and schools, and showed us how to live the right way. They embody everything that is good about Hartington.”

Becker said the memorial will serve as a reminder to everyone of our veterans patriotism and sacrifice.

Becker said the memorial has a lot of personal meaning for him, as well.

“On a personal level, I’m very proud that my grandfather, father and several uncles will be honored at this memorial. Those were great men who showed great courage and honor by defending our country.” 

Cedar County News