Next phase of memorial walk takes shape
Failing second grade may be the reason Ed McMenomy Sr. survived World War II. The 88-year-old Rosemount resident should have graduated high school in 1943 but instead he received his diploma in 1944.
He was drafted shortly after, but the course of his service was surely different because of the delay. McMenomy was sworn into the Army in January of 1945. He was supposed to be part of the force that invaded Japan. However, the atomic bombs dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced the Japanese to quickly surrender.
Instead, McMenomy spent a year and half on the island of Okinawa, serving as a clerk, helping soldiers get home. McMenomy met lots of soldiers who had been through the bad parts of the war and he could tell it had affected them.
In 1946 McMenomy was discharged from the Army. Upon discharge, McMenomy was given a physical. The doctor noticed spots on his lungs and listed him as an injured veteran.
That second twist of fate help McMenomy get himself through the University of Minnesota Law School.
While luck played a role in his fate, McMenomy mostly credits the United States government for its part in ensuring his future through education.
“I am eternally grateful to my government,” said McMenomy.
Proud to be an American and a veteran, McMenomy wanted to do something to celebrate American freedoms and the veterans and soldiers who preserve them. More than seven years ago, he and some friends including Jack Warweg, Gerry Gerrits, Sister Mary Louise McKenna and Bud Curley started a campaign to establish the Rosemount Veteran’s Memorial Walk.
Part of the .8 mile Koch Minnesota Trail loop was identified as the location for the memorial. The city agreed to the project and maintains the trail. McMenomy called the area a natural Cathedral.
“I wanted to see my paver out there,” said McMenomy.
The next phase
At 88, McMenomy has handed down a lot of the work to his nephew Dan McMenomy and daughter Sue Nivala. The two have committed to seeing Ed’s dreams for the memorial come true, and his dreams are big.
Currently there are more than 200 pavers along the trail. This summer, at least 28 more will be put in. Ten of the pavers will represent Civil War Veterans who are buried at Pine Bend Cemetery. The other 18 will bear the names of the 18 34th Infantry soldiers that have been killed in action as part of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Along the trail, there is room for 5,000 pavers. Pavers can be purchased for $300.
The biggest development in the works, though, is the addition of the first rest and reflection area planned along the trail. Ultimately, plans call for eight stations. The first station will be called Liberty. The station will honor all branches of the military and will feature a rising vista to a single focal point, a sculpture.
The group has been working with Brodin Studios to develop the sculpture, which will depict a Minutemen soldier and a Red Bull soldier. There are also plans to plant a flower garden near the entrance of the trail.
The other stations will be titled: Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Speech, Civil Rights, Right to Bear Arms and Optimism.
To complete the Rosemount Veterans Memorial Walk, the group is actively seeking help. The elder McMenomy said they are looking for financial help to get the rest and reflection areas built. The estimated cost for the first reflection area is $350,000.
Far less expensive but still important, the group is looking for volunteers to help tend to the flower garden on an ongoing basis.
The memorial walk planning group will share their plans with the Rosemount Parks Board in April to hopefully gain approval to move forward.
As they move forward with the project, McMenomy said he’s confident they will find support for both. So far, he said the veterans groups in town have been supportive of the project including the American Legion Post 65, VFW Post 9433 and the Vietnam Veterans of America.
For more information about the Rosemount Veterans Memorial Walk call Dan McMenomy at 651-226-6009.