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Veterans Memorial Site is dedicated

A large crowd gathered Saturday morning to witness the dedication of the new Marquette County Veterans Memorial, constructed at the base of the courthouse hill in Montello.

Speakers at the ceremony included Dave Benson, a member of the committee that raised the money to create the new site. Benson opened the program by welcoming all, and thanking Veterans, county agencies, the city of Montello, and many others who made the project come to life. Also remembered was the late Skip Klemp, another of the original organizers of the project and major fundraiser coordinator.

Former Veterans Service Officer for Marquette County, Richard Hasse, told the story of how the new memorial site came to be after he realized that many people did not know a memorial stone existed on the courthouse hill.

He felt it was important to find a way to move the memorial to street level, so people can gather around it on special occasions like Memorial Day and penciled out an idea. Hasse said he shared his idea with others, including Skip Klemp, who was organizing a Veterans golf outing and was looking for a suggestion to use the proceeds. “His eyes lit up” when he saw the drawing, Hasse recalled.

Hasse gained support from county board members when the idea was mentioned during a meeting and it wasn’t long before an ad hoc committee was formed that included both Klemp and Dave Benson, two former Marines who were enthusiastic about the project, along with others. Following their first meeting in May 2010, the first donations were deposited.

Earlier this summer, the site was cleared and construction began to build the wall enclosure, place military emblems and flagpoles, pour cement, put down sod, and move the historic monument down to the new site. The memorial stone was placed by the county about halfway up the hill in 1929, at the persuasion of the Marquette County Chapter of the American War Mothers.