The entire IRVM project is valued at approximately one million dollars. We have a shortfall of $ 40,000. Completion date is summer 2011.
"Honoring Those Who Served"
IRVM Mission Statement
As read at his 2007 funeral by his son, Scott, some of Richard Edstrom's parting words were: "Always keep veterans and members of the armed services in mind". Dick served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1950's. Brother Russell was a sailor and brother Oscar Jr. was a paratrooper. Their father, Oscar Sr., was a member of Yoki-Bergman American Legion Post 220. The IRVM dream (11 years ago) was very important to many including Dick ( 1st v-chair of the IRVM committee. The non-profit formed (1998) for the sole purpose of collecting funds for a memorial to those who served. Walter Jubala was one of the very first financial supporters through his generous donation to the cause.
Alongside Dick were: Don Tekautz , Bunny Isaacson, Larry Cuffe, and Floyd Jaros. Inactive supporters have been: Bob Givens, Phil Carlson, Evelyn Raida, Larry Asbach, Dario Cuoco, Shawn Carr, and Barb Sanderson. Larry Lapatka, Ralph Harvey, Marge Pearsall and Dick Edstrom have passed away but the mission still lives and moves forward. Current IRVM committee members are: Tom Berrigan (chair), Jim Lustig (treas.), Louise Grams (sec.), Chuck Pottsmith (pavers), Jim Wilson, Jake Varoga, Don Tekautz, Larry Cuffe, Richard Obidowski, Jim Pernu, and Charlene Luoma (v. chair).
Most committee members have either been in active service or have had relatives/loved ones serve. Thousands of Iron Rangers have served our country and deserve to be honored. During World War II, St. Louis County casualties were the highest in Minn. Ely, Mn. had more men and women serving per capita than any other U.S. city. An unusually large number geographically of Vietnam war deaths were from the Iron Range. The sacrifices, injuries and deaths, in addition to the iron and steel provided for war efforts places this area in a significant light for a monumental tribute.
Phase I (debt free) in Virginia Mn. City Center Park near Bailey's Lake was completed in 2006. It includes granite markers representing losses from 5 conflicts, lighting, circular handicapped accessible sidewalks, flags, statue underlay, sod, landscaping and, most importantly, individual pavers. They bear: names, branches of service, units, and deceased veteran's date of death. Hundreds are installed with room for hundreds more and purchases are steady. Pavers can be purchased or donations made:IRVM, Box 35, Virginia, 55792, Donations should also reach the project if addressed to Attn.: IRVM project, Servicemen's Club (229 Chestnut St., Virginia Mn. 55792), or by calling Tom Berrigan 218-749-5362 or Chuck Pottsmith 218-741-8775.
Phase II is nearing completion. It's "when" not "if" that motivates everyone. Estimated completion date is summer 2011. It is a 27'w., 12' depth, 15' h. bronze eagle sculpture shielding 8 life size statues representing all military branches, five conflicts, both sexes and many ethnic groups. All conflicts of the last century are depicted. The title “Shoulder to Shoulder” is because the figures support each other as they honor the fallen. The artist, Gareth Andrews (Zim, Mn.), (www.oxbowart.com or www.thecruciblellc.com), is finalizing his work at the Crucible Foundry in Norman, Oklahoma. Estimated completion costs including installation cost of $10,000. That leaves a shortfall of approximately $ 40,000. The entire value of the Phase I and Phase II of this magnificent project is one million dollars.
We need everyone's help to complete the dream that has lived for over a decade and will honor those who served and those who are presently serving. It will be a beautiful tourism tribute to the entire area and its history. Our mission statement is "Honoring Those Who Serve". Please help us to succeed. Thank you.