BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Editor's note: The video above first aired on KARE 11 in Nov. 2021.
A new memorial that will honor past, present and future military veterans has been buoyed by a major donation.
The Bloomington Veterans Memorial, the flagship project of the nonprofit Bloomington Remember Veterans, recently received a $50,000 corporate gift from the Luther Automotive Group.
Five Luther car dealerships each donated $5,000, which was matched by the Luther Auto Group Foundation. According to Matt Oquist, the community engagement director for Luther, an employee that recently retired suggested contributing to the project.
"We have many veterans throughout our organization who have worked for us for a long time. We wanted to honor the service that they have done for our country to provide freedom for the rest of us," Oquist said.
The memorial, which will be located on the East Lawn of Bloomington's Civic Plaza, is being funded by private donations. Leaders with the Bloomington Veterans Memorial say construction will begin when "adequate funds" have been raised. The expected construction costs are $750,000.
As of January, the memorial project has raised $146,000 in fundraising, which includes the Luther Automotive donation. According to a spokesperson for the memorial, they're currently working to secure $350,000 in state funding.
While the memorial hopes to break ground by the end of 2023, they say groundbreaking will probably happen in 2024.
Fundraising began in 2021 for the Bloomington Veterans Memorial, which will consist of two walking paths: One for the veteran and their journey, and the other for the veteran's family.
Other elements of the memorial's design include lighted circular platforms engraved with symbols representing the six military branches: Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Space Force.
Symbolic dog tags will hang from six armatures and identify veterans with their branches and years of service, and QR codes on the tags will lead visitors to a special tribute website. To add a veteran to the memorial, click here.
"Those tags may move like a wind chime, almost like they're speaking. It would be almost like the service people are speaking to the people going through this," Mike Dardis, Vietnam veteran and vice president of Bloomington Remembers Veterans Inc., told KARE 11 in 2021.
"It will be a good place for people to not only honor and show respect for the veterans, but also to help with the healing for those with PTSD, things of that nature," Dardis said.
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