A Michigan town is up in arms after a veteran's group proposed to construct a fallen soldier memorial that prominently displays an M16 rifle.
Friends of American Veterans sent a proposal to the Milford Village Parks and Recreation Commission last month to ask for approval for the project, but hasn't gotten the go-ahead. Village manager Christian Wuerth said there's at least one reservation, the Detroit Free Press reported.
"There was some concern from a couple of members regarding the specific memorial that's proposed. Specifically, the gun," Wuerth said. "They understood the history of [the memorial] and the meaning of it, they just didn't feel it was appropriate for that specific location."
The current design features an 8-foot-tall statue comprised of depictions of combat boots, an M16 rifle, military dog tags and a helmet, which the veteran's group has asked to construct near the entrance to Milford Central Park.
Village council president Jerry Aubry is also opposed to the idea, but said it's not the statue itself that the council has a problem with, but the proposed location.
"I don't think it needs to be a center point of our Central Park. The boots, the machine gun, the helmet; I understand it should be there somewhere, but I don't think it should be right in the middle of the park," Aubry said.
Not all of the council members are pushing back; Councilwoman Jennifer Frankford said she supports constructing the memorial as it's currently being proposed.
"If it wasn't for the boots and the gun and the helmet, we wouldn't have all the freedoms we have," she said.
And Frankford has a whole army of supporters behind her who together have raised more than $12,000 in just three months to pay for construction of the memorial. Bear Hall, the founder and chairman of FAV and a Korean War veteran himself, has helped lead the fundraising efforts.
"All the vets I talked to [after the meeting] are furious," Hall said. "People who gave me money are furious. Everyone's thinking the same thing we're thinking: We didn't win the war by throwing sticks and stones."
Nonetheless, Hall has expressed a willingness to compromise, telling the Free Press that he would consider placing a smaller memorial somewhere nearby the initial proposed location.
"I'm not adverse to that. We feel – the veterans feel – that it needs to be there. If [the council] doesn't want it as a focal point, that's fine, but we don't want some foofoo fountain, either," Hall said.
The design is a larger replica of memorials that troops assemble on the battlefield to honor their fellow soldiers who have died. It isn't meant for any individual fallen soldier but rather as a way to honor all troops.
"It's the ultimate sacrifice. Somebody gave their life to protect and serve this country and they should be remembered. They should never be forgotten," Hall said.
(H/T: Detroit Free Press)
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