City council approves Stearns Park veterans’ memorial.

September 26, 2016

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#MasonCountyNews #Ludington #MasonCountyVeterans.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — The Ludington City Council approved a request Monday night by local citizens and veterans groups to construct a veterans’ memorial at Stearns Park. The memorial would be located adjacent to the existing war memorial, which is in the middle of Stearns Park. It would include a sculpture, flags of each of the Armed Services, benches, landscaping, and a seating wall. It would also include a bust honoring William Charrette, a Mason County man who received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Korean war. The memorial would stretch from Lakeshore Drive to Stearns Outer Drive.

A presentation on the memorial was given during Monday’s city council meeting. The memorial is a collaborative effort between the Ludington/Mason County Cultural Economic Task Force’s sculpture trail, the Mason County Allied Veterans, William R. Charette Amvets Post, Community Foundation for Mason County, City of Ludington, and the Reed family.

veterans_memorial_stearns_park_1Veteran activist Bob Gancarz of Free Soil spoke about Bill Charette. He said Charette was orphaned when he was 6-years-old when his parents both died within a three month period. Bill and his 12-year-old sister were adopted by an uncle. After he graduated from St. Simon’s High School he joined the US Navy and became a medical corpsman who was assigned to a Marine unit.

During one battle, Charette exposed himself to enemy fire throughout the day and helped several wounded Marines. At one point, Charette was tending to a Marine near a hill when a grenade rolled down a hill. Charette threw his medical bag on the grenade which helped soften the blow of the grenade. He and the Marine were still injured but they both later recovered. Charette continued to serve the Navy for a total of 26 years.

Budde Reed of Ludington said the memorial will be a mini version of the military mall located in Washington, D.C. He said most of the memorial will be paid for by private donations, which will be held in the community foundation.

Reed said funds that are raised will also include money that will go into a perpetual care fund that will help maintain the memorial.

During the council meeting, Reed requested the city allow the use of that portion of Stearns Park for the memorial. He also requested the city remove an existing streetlight on Stearns Outer Drive and to install the stamped and colored concrete sidewalk, which would make the new and existing memorials barrier free. The goal is to have a public unveiling on Sunday, June 25, 2017.

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