Remembrance and ReflectionFenton to dedicate new Veteran’s Memorial


“Thank you for your service.”

We can’t say this enough to living veterans. We can’t say it at all to the nearly 2,853,000 active members of the U.S. military who have died in service to our country. But Americans have found other ways to remember and express their gratitude.

In almost every American town, there is a memorial to honor our country’s war dead and their sacrifices and whether big or small, each one is special to the folks who live there. The City of Fenton is no different and this year, a special place to honor both living and deceased military personnel will be dedicated on May 27 – Memorial Day – and Freedom Park will officially become Freedom Park Veteran’s Memorial.

Beginning in 2017, the City of Fenton Parks & Recreation Board and Beautification Commission began discussing the concept for a veteran’s memorial at Freedom Park. A subcommittee was formed, members visited other communities with veteran’s memorials and brought forward several ideas for the development of Freedom Park, according to Committee Chair and City of Fenton Mayor Pro Tem, Patricia Lockwood.

“On February 5, 2019 Dan Czarnecki, Fenton’s then-DPW director, made a presentation to the Fenton City Council to move forward with this project,” Lockwood explained. “It was recommended that a committee be formed of individuals with a passion for establishing and carrying out this type of memorial in the Fenton community. Later that month, the City Council passed a resolution establishing the committee to plan and implement the Freedom Park Veteran’s Memorial.



The committee first met on May 30, 2019 but the pandemic brought the planning to a halt from March 2020 until September 2021. Since then, the committee, city administration and OHM Engineers have been meeting monthly, reviewing the designs for the park located at the triangle bordered by W. Shiawassee, W. Elizabeth and Park Streets.

“This is a historic site of 1837, a public square where town meetings were held and troops mustered before going off to battle,” Lockwood informed.

Fenton Memorials was diligent in locating the granite needed to create the first of three memorials. The second memorial is an obelisk surrounded by the seven branches of the military. The Fenton City Council commissioned renowned and internationally acclaimed sculptor Tom White of Arizona to create the third memorial – a bronze statue titled “Gold Star Mother.”

The memorial will fly three flags – American, State of Michigan and City of Fenton. The American flag flew on the battleship U.S.S. Arizona, now entombed at Pearl Harbor. With the flag, the city received a certificate of flag presentation to the Veteran’s Memorial Park Dedication. It reads, “In tribute to the more than 2,400 lives lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the national ensign flies continuously from the battleship U.S.S. Arizona … Stricken from the active list in 1942, the Arizona, resting in 38 feet of water, is no longer in commission.” The certificate is signed by Tom Leatherman, Superintendent of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Several Michiganders were among those on the Arizona who perished in that December 7, 1941 attack.



“Over 500 engraved bricks will be placed in the walkway to honor our veterans, living and deceased, and give tribute to their sacrifices,” stated Lockwood. Citizens purchased the bricks to honor their loved ones.

The existing gazebo has been refinished with new wooden benches installed for visitors to sit and reflect. Also included in the new landscaping are seven wrought iron benches honoring veterans from the seven branches of service, and a “donor wall of appreciation” is forthcoming.

“Giving thanks to all veterans, living and deceased, is the primary focus of this memorial, in appreciation and loving memory of all those who have protected our freedom, and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. We honor you and will never forget,” said Lockwood.



The Fenton VFW (Curtis-Wolverton Post 3243) Memorial Day event begins at 9:30am at the Fenton Community & Cultural Center, 150 S. Leroy St. Following a wreath-laying service at the Shiawassee River, the parade will proceed to Oakwood Cemetery for the annual service. The VFW honor guard and public will proceed to Freedom Park for the Veteran’s Memorial dedication. Pastor Robbie Carnes will deliver the invocation and Mayor Sue Osborn will welcome attendees. Patricia Lockwood will give a brief history of the Memorial and introduce committee members and a guest speaker. The dedication will conclude with the raising of the three flags, a 21-gun salute and dedication of the three memorials. A luncheon will follow at the Community Center.

In addition to Chair Patricia Lockwood, the Veteran’s Memorial Committee members include Scott Grossmeyer, Tracy Bottecelli, Dawn Overmyer, Pastor Robert Carnes, Doug Tebo, Jennifer Wenzel, John Scott, Ed Koledo, Shelly Day, Gus Van Hecke and Ken Rodenbo (now deceased).


Renowned sculptor Tom White of Arizona was commissioned to create the bronze statue titled “Gold Star Mother.”


Freedom Park is .35 acres small, but rich in history. It is Fenton’s first park and the place where, during the Civil War, Colonel William Matthew Fenton had the soldiers practice drills. When the town was founded in 1834, it was also the town square and once featured a wooden bandstand where the Fenton City Band would perform. The park has long been a place of remembrance to honor local community members who have served our country.


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