Statue in Place at Iron Range Veterans Memorial

By KBJR News 1

July 26, 2012 Updated Jul 26, 2012 at 10:43 PM CDT

Virginia, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Veterans of war know a lot about sacrifice, but veterans on the Iron Range also know a lot about patience. They've been waiting 14 years for the Iron Range Veterans Memorial to be completed.

They got what they've been waiting for Thursday, when a 14,500-lb. statue made its way to Virginia, completing the memorial.

The monument titled, "Shoulder to Shoulder, Even the Fallen Stand Tall," was created by Minnesota artist, Gareth Andrews.

"For so many years it was just a dream and now it's reality," said Iron Range Veterans Memorial Committee Chairman, Tom Berrigan, "Ordinarily you wouldn't see anything like this unless it was in Washington D.C."

The statue came to Virginia from Oklahoma by way of a semi-truck. Transportation for the roughly 16-hour trip was donated. The driver of the truck is also a veteran, serving in Afghanistan twice.

The monument pays tribute to war veterans from all branches of the military, from World War One to the Persian Gulf War.

"They thought it would never come, but we proved them wrong," said Iron Range Veterans Memorial Committee Member, Jim Wilson, "There were money issues, there were timing issues for different situations."

Through the help of grants and donations, the project pulled together, but not in time for some.

"He would have loved to have seen it," said Jim Pottsmith of his father, "His goal was to see the statue done, but unfortunately he passed away in December of last year."

Pottsmith and fellow committee member, Dennis Lustig, took over for their dads on the Memorial Committee after they passed away. Their dads were two of the committee's original members.

"I'm sure he'd be very pleased. I'm sure he's smiling somewhere," said Lustig.

Chairman Tom Berrigan says that the memorial is an important way for all war veterans to be remembered.

"You know as time goes on, people have a tendency to forget, going by this brings it all back," he said.

A dedication for the memorial will be held on August 25th.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.