After almost a year of planning, the new Veterans Memorial project is finally coming to fruition after receiving City Council's approval on the site plans on Thursday night.
The plan is to take the existing memorial rock and move it to a new location, by the COBACH Center and in front of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The new memorial will be a horseshoe design, with representation of all five armed forces - Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. The entrance of the memorial will have the American Flag on one side and the black POW/MIA Flag on the other.
The memorial design was a group effort from all of the Brighton area veterans groups. The Veterans Memorial Board consists of five members, one to represent VFW Post 4357, American Legion Post 235, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 125 and Operation Injured Soldier - Brighton Post. The fifth member is a City Council liaison, Council member Ricci Bandkau.
Bryan Bradford, Veterans Memorial Board Member representing the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 125, said the project originated due to vandalism of the existing memorial rock.
"Kids climb all over the rock," Bradford said. "It's very common place that you see people climbing on the rock or sitting on the rock. It didn't give it the reverence that a memorial should have."
Bandkau said the City of Brighton has donated the land for the Veteran's Memorial project and that no city funds will be spent on the project.
"I don't think we do enough for the veterans," Bandkau said. "If it weren't for their service and sacrifice, we wouldn't be living in the great country we are now."
Bradford said the total cost of the project is about $150,000. However, Bradford said they have received many in-kind donations in the form of foundation work, landscaping and more.
Bradford said the greatest need is paying for the marble and concrete work because they don't expect the manufacturer to donate 100 percent of those items.
Monetary donations can be made at brightonveteransmemorial.org or by making checks out to the Kiwanis Foundation of Brighton, who has partnered with the Veterans Memorial Board to make it a 501(C)(3) fundraising effort. Checks can be mailed to Brighton Veterans Memorial, P.O. Box 91, Brighton, MI 48116.
The groundbreaking at the new site will take place after the parade on Memorial Day - May 28, but construction won't begin until Labor Day so as not to disturb all of the summer fairs and festivals, Bradford said.
The dedication is planned for Veterans Day, on Nov. 11.
"At one point in every veterans life, they've signed a blank check that included even the loss of life," Bradford said. "They deserve a more proper and reverent memorial."