Friday's Weekend Column
Our Memorial Arboretum

by James Glaser
March 12, 2004

When a country goes to war, its people start remembering past wars and those that died in them. Our community started doing that when we first attack Afghanistan and the death of Sergeant Dale Panchott in Iraq brought those past losses into every day conversation. People wanted to do something to honor the sacrifice made by those that died and remember the loss suffered by their family and the community.

This year there was an all school reunion in Northome for our Centennial and alumni came from all over the country. Those that attended school during World War II came back and told stories about those killed in the war like it was yesterday. They gave me a word picture of young classmates that walked away from their parent's hay field or cow barn and signed up to fight for their country.

Some of these young men didn't last a year before news came back about their death. Some were buried in the foreign country they were killed in and others were lost and no one knows where they fell. Local "boys" were also lost in WWI, Korea, one in Vietnam, and now Panchott in George Bush's War.

The nice thing about all of this is that it was the youth of our community that came up with the idea of having a memorial, not just for those that have fallen in the many battles of our country, but for anyone that has gone before that someone wants to remember.

These young people along with a few teachers at the school got a piece of land from the city, raised funds, found a landscape designer to help them, and they are going to build a Memorial Arboretum this spring.

They have set aside the center section of the Memorial Wall they are incorporating into the design and are giving it to our Veterans of Foreign Wars Post. We can do whatever we want with it to honor our fallen comrades.

This isn't going to be an easy task. I want to some how convey to those that look at this memorial what a great sacrifice these veterans made and at the same time somehow say what a waste war is.

The Memorial Arboretum is going to be a Minnesota forest with a park like setting. There will be thirty or so different tree and shrub species, a walkway through and a way to identify everything growing there. Lots of people will use what they learn there to pick plants for their yards for years to come. There will be blueberry plants and June-berry trees along with wild crabapples and plum. There is a section planned for ornamental grasses and a space set aside for perennial and annual flowers. Big trees, little trees, and many that grow feed for birds. I doubt that a group of kids could do this in a big city. The price of land and construction costs would be too much. Up here we are using the most prime lot in the town. Local people will volunteer labor, old people will be there giving their advice, and everyone will feel part of the project. Every time someone comes to visit, a trip to our arboretum will be in order and I am hoping our veteran portion will leave some sort of lasting impression with them.

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