on Veterans Day
Havre Daily News
It's a place of honor for residents who have served their country, and it will be dedicated on the day Americans remember those who have done so.
The new veterans memorial at Havre's Town Square will be dedicated Friday, on Veterans Day. The celebration will include speeches by Havre Mayor Bob Rice, who is a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, and by local and state Veterans of Foreign Wars officials, and a Montana Marine who was wounded in Iraq.
The dedication will begin at 11 a.m., with a ceremony and free luncheon following at the Vets Club.
The memorial now features several hundred plaques honoring current and former military members, said past VFW Post 497 commander Jim Matter, who is in charge of the project. The wall has space to hold about 1,800 plaques. They include the name of the veteran, the veteran's branch of service and the dates of service.
Matter said many Havre residents are buying the plaques for uncles, cousins and siblings. He said people have been jumping at the chance to honor family members who have served.
“The people of Havre have been great. They've responded to this well,” he said.
Matter, who served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971 and had a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1969, said he purchased a plaque for himself and his son, Jim Matter Jr., who served in the Army from 1992 to 1998.
He said he is proud to be honored alongside his son.
“I tried talking him out of going into the service after what I went through in Vietnam,” Matter said. “Like I did, he grew up in a hurry. You have to.
“It's pretty neat to be able to look on there and see your son next to you,” he added.
Matter said the memorial is “overdue” for Havre.
“There's a lot of cities in the state that don't have them, and we were one of them,” he said.
Two memorials to service members are located at the Hill County Courthouse. One is a tribute to those who served in World War II, and the other is a tree, planted in 1975, dedicated to prisoners of war and those missing in action in the Vietnam War.
Bill Baltrusch donated the concrete for the memorial, which was constructed by Clausen & Sons Construction. JM Donoven Designs in Fine Jewelry engraved the 3-by-6-inch plaques, and Midwest Diesel Injection Sales and Service did the ironwork.
Music at Friday's ceremony will be provided by the Havre Middle School band and Dena Rudio.
Rice and state VFW commander Jim Magill will speak at the dedication. Marine Cpl. David Coleman of Helena, who was wounded in Iraq, will speak at the Vets Club celebration.
The plaques cost $25 and can be ordered at the Vets Club. They can be purchased for any service member anywhere in the country, Matter said.