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Lawmakers, veterans push Michigan war memorial's restoration

May 13, 2017 (Photo Credit: Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press via AP)
DETROIT — A crumbling Detroit pillar dedicated to Michigan's war veterans is in need of restoration.

State Sen. Mike Kowall said that he believes the Michigan War Veterans Memorial can be restored, or moved and restored. His office reports that plans are under way for Kowall to meet with Brig. Gen. Michael Stone, who has had staff working on the issue for about six months, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Michigan War Veterans Memorial 2
This Friday May 5, 2017 photo, shows the deteriorating Michigan War Veterans Memorial near the now-abandoned State Fairgrounds in Detroit.
Photo Credit: Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press via AP

"It's a sad tribute to people who gave their all during the first World War," Kowall said. "It's important that we just constantly remind people that there are better ways to go — let's do it without sacrificing young lives."

Currently, the memorial's bronze and marble plaques are pulled off by scrappers while litter and feces are scattered outside the 40-foot-tall structure, which American Civil War veterans dedicated in 1939. There have been many failed attempts at restoration, leading to pessimism among supporters of the memorial.

U.S. Air Force veteran Dick Chatman has been advocating for the memorial since 2005, picking up where a Korean War veteran and advocate left off.

Michigan War Veterans Memorial 3
In this May 5, 2017, photo, U.S. Air Force veteran Dick Chatman, 68, of Detroit talks about the Michigan War Veterans Memorial near the now-abandoned State Fairgrounds in Detroit, that he has been working to get restored since 2005. People have been stealing its plaques.
Photo Credit: Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press via AP

Chatman places 30 American flags in the ground around the site on Memorial Day and Veterans Day weekends, "just to let people know that even though it's crumbling and falling down, this is a memorial and that we care about it," he said. "People will come up to me while I'm putting the flags down, and (say they) never knew what this was. And that's understandable. A lot of people drive by and don't know what it is."

Chatman and other veterans started a nonprofit that's raised $2,000 to help restore the memorial.

Information from: Detroit Free Press,

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