FRUITLAND, Iowa — A community group is filling a void and creating a space to honor veterans.
The Fruitland Iowa Community Lion’s Club made a plan to erect a black granite veterans memorial next to city hall, according to Janina Hawley, who is the club’s membership chair and chairman of the memorial committee. The idea was spawned by club founder Wayne Shoultz.
Hawley said there is no veterans memorial in the Muscatine area and it’s something club members had been talking about for quite some time.
“So we decided lets quit talking and (decided) let’s do something,” said Hawley.
During the summer of 2019, club members started making plans for the memorial. They enlisted help from area students, asking Louisa-Muscatine High School art students to work on a design and asked for the Louisa-Muscatine Elementary School to help with funding for future flags to be displayed along the memorial. Hawley said they held a “penny drive” and raised $375.
“We wanted everyone to be involved,” said Hawley. “It’s the community’s memorial, it’s not just the lions club, it’s for everyone.”
Collaborating with the high school students’ design, the club landed on a vision that would include two black granite panels which would be engraved front and back with the names of veterans. The monument is set to be six feet tall and four feet wide and include a name index and benches. The goal is to have 240 veterans’ names engraved, but Hawley said the wall can hold up to 400.
Hawley said each name listing will cost $100, which includes two lines: the veteran’s name followed by their branch of the military, years of service, and rank. The wall will include veterans from anywhere, and don’t just have to be from the Muscatine area. Click here to fill out a Veterans Memorial Donation Form.
The total cost of the project has been estimated at $45,000. Fundraising for the project kicked off at a town celebration during Labor Day weekend in September of 2019. As of January 2, 2020, they’ve raised $16,000 and 40 veterans’ names have been submitted for engraving.
The Lion’s Club’s next fundraiser for the memorial is set for Valentine’s Day weekend at the Armed Forces Armory next to the Muscatine Airport. The event will include dinner and dancing, featuring Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Famers “Lefty and the Spinners.” Click here for information on the fundraiser.
Hawley said there’s no timeline on when the memorial will go up, it just depends on when they get the funds they need. Greater Muscatine is handling the funds and is helping to set up an investment account to be used for maintenance once the memorial is built.