New additions made at Lake Mills park

Published 10:00 am Saturday, July 3, 2010

Three new statues have been installed at the Lake Mills Area Veterans Monument in Arlington Park, located just to the north of this community‘s post office. The installation of the three identical statues was completed on May 25. The statues were dedicated on Memorial Day.

These statues of the soldiers with rifles now stand guard at three corners of this park on Mill Street and North Second Avenue.

“The way the statue’s standing is a ready position, “ Bill Clark said. “It has a protective stance.”

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Clark is a veteran who has helped organize the upgrades to the park. His friend, Leon Christianson, had some ideas for upgrades to the park and Clark thinks all the work he’s done has made the park look better

“Here’s a nonveteran who took interest to do this for veterans,” Clark said regarding Christianson. “That doesn’t happen often, and it’s very special.”

The addition of these three 1,200-pound, concrete statues covered with a bronze patina was inspired by a group of Lake Mills people, including Christianson, who were bike riding near Lanesboro. They saw identical statues and found out they were made in Kellogg, located between Wabasha and Winona. The decision was made, with the cooperation of several Lake Mills residents and firms, that the three new statutes would add a fourth significant element to the local memorial in Arlington Park.

One person who became involved with this addition to the Arlington Park memorial was 14-year-old Noah Irons, son of Gary and Roxanne Irons of Lake Mills. He used this project as part of his 100 hours of service to qualify for Eagle Scout ranking. His Scout leader, Wayne Mannes, also became involved with the project.

“The city helped with digging the holes and setting up the statues, “ Christianson explained.

“This was a team effort,” Clark added.

A third element of the Lake Mills memorial is a black marble monument that list the names of area veterans who have died during the nation’s wars. One name is for a Civil war casualty, three names are for World War I, 18 names are for World War II, and there’s one name each for the Korean War and Vietnam War.

One of the names on the World War II list is that of Glaydon Iverson of Emmons who died on Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He was Freeborn County’s first casualty of this war and Albert Lea’s Disabled American Veterans Chapter 16 is named in his honor.

Another name on this monument is that of Marlin Madson, also of Emmons, who was killed in action on Feb. 12, 1952, during the Korean War.

In the center of this park are four separate concrete walls. According to Christianson, a prime promoter of this addition to the park, a total of 1,175 names of area veterans of all wars have been etched into individual bricks. A good portion of these bricks were purchased during a 2003 campaign to provide the second addition to a memorial that already existed in Arlington Park.

The four walls and the black marble monument were dedicated on July 10, 2004.

For 48 years the original element of this park has been a U.S. Army M4A3 Sherman tank. This tank serves as a special salute to the memory of the veterans of all wars and the contributions made to the nation by its designer, Brig. Gen, Joseph Milton Colby.

He was born in Lake Mills on March 27, 1904, and graduated from Lake Mills High School in 1922. After attending Virginia Military Institute and the University of Iowa, Colby graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1929, and became an officer in the U.S. Army.

He gained fame as the designer of various tank-automotive vehicles, especially during World War II. Colby was responsible for the creation of the Walker, Sherman, Pershing and Patton tanks, plus other military vehicles and self-propelled artillery weapons.

The general retired from military service in 1959. He came to Lake Mills on Aug. 19,1962, for the dedication of the tank memorial. He died on Oct. 18, 1974, and is buried at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

A special patriotic addition on July 4 to the Lake Mills Area Veterans Monument will be the 124 banners that form the community’s own Avenue of Flags.