By William R. Dixon
Tribune Recorder Leader
Sandusky students have again added to their legacy of community investment after dedication ceremonies of the newly improved Veterans Monument on the Sanilac County Courthouse Lawn.
The students, under the direction of educators George Lasecki and Erin Carlson were able to raise over $51k in just two months, as their project was embraced financially by all walks of life.
The finished upgrade of what has been widely referred to as the WWII Memorial is now known as the Veterans Monument after the addition of two new black granite panels to the existing three gray panels.
The new portion of the monument contains the insignia of each of the five branches of the U.S. Military including; Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, as well as an insignia honoring P.O.W. and M.I.A. Soldiers.
The community listened intently to the keynote address of Brigadier General Michael Peplinski, USAF-Retired.
Peplinski, a native of Deckerville, spoke about the importance of the “sphere of influence” and how such can play a roll in your life’s trajectory.
The General was also encouraged by the tradition of student and Veteran involvements, stating that Veterans make great mentors.
Sanilac County Commissioner Gary Heberling opened the ceremony with a heartfelt welcome to everyone in attendance. After a brief address, David Leen and Shelby Tracy performed a very good duet of the National Anthem.
The Pledge of Allegiance was followed by the Invocation by Pastor Donald P. Rudy.
Four student champions shared the duties of a public address about the history of the project.
Kristyn Franzel, Joshua Robinson, Logan Leen and Lydia Ulfig expressed sincere gratitude to all of the persons involved with the initiative. Donors included Veterans Organizations, as well as personal, private and business support. They were also grateful for all of those that offered labor, material and expertise to see the project through to completion.
The Veterans Memorial upgrades also include granite benches, new stamped concrete approaches throughout the grounds, in addition to a lighted flagpole back drop.
A musical Armed Forces salute was performed by Claire Lester, Heeba Katoula, Audreyanna Smith, Lucas Feehan, Jake & Liz Huysentruyt after the official ribbon cutting.
Shannon Kreger, Director of Sanilac County Veterans Affairs introduced each of the 12 persons charged with the placement of six wreaths at the base of the monument, while a flag was raised saluting each of the military branches and P.O.W. & M.I.A.’s.
Those serving as wreath bearers were: Army: Ed Bauer & Josh Falls, Marines: Dennis McIntire & Harlow Elsholz, Navy: Ralph Hulverson & Jeff Lyall, Air Force: Joel Bingle & Virgil Strickler, Coast Guard: Fr. Robert Schikora & Brian Auguston, POW/MIA: Robert Abbott & Sue Scott.
83rd District State Representative Shane Hernandez hit the nail on the head during closing remarks when he expressed that Sanilac County is both unique and fortunate.
“This kind of thing doesn’t happen everywhere. It is my honor and privilege to be involved with such a great community project.” he said.
A 21-gun Salute by the Croswell American Legion Honor Guard was followed by a Taps performance by Claire Lester and Heeba Katoula concluded the ceremonies.
The aforementioned student initiate was preceded by many projects over the course of time. Some of those success include; Over 400 U.S. Flags placed on the Courthouse Lawn, Diamond Trail Fitness Stations, three different Park Projects as well as the Free Food for Friends project.
There’s a lot more going on at Sandusky Schools than just book learning.
This sphere of influence includes; revenue, expenses, teamwork, respect, planning, design, leadership, dedication and execution.
The group was quick to credit the community with the support necessary to see the vision though to completion.
They openly thanked all of the Sanilac County VFW and American Legion Posts including James E. Connolly Post 2945, Harry P. McDonald Post 4837, Port Sanilac Post 8872, Sickles Arnold American Legion Post 516, Peck American Legion Post 489, Russell Wakefield American Legion Post 369. Cecil Service American Legion Post 255.