The Ottumwa Courier


May 26, 2014

Monument dedicated on Memorial Day

OTTUMWA — On Monday afternoon, one of Ottumwa’s newest monuments was dedicated on the most fitting of days and not even a downpour could scare guests away.

The Civil War soldier wood carving has been in Ottumwa Cemetery since it was completed by chainsaw sculptor Gary Keenan in November, and during a special Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, it was officially dedicated by the city of Ottumwa.

During the ceremony, Ottumwa Area Arts Council President Kim Hellige explained how the whole project came to fruition. She said city councilmember J.R. Richards approached them about doing some sort of memorial with the giant oak tree in the cemetery that had succumbed to oak wilt, and right away they knew they had to do some sort of Civil War dedication.

“This was a great project,” Hellige said in a speech during the ceremony. “The Ottumwa Area Arts Council is very proud to have been a part of this project.”

The arts council was then able to get the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation involved, and they funded the entire $5,000 project.

During the Memorial Day ceremony the VFW and American Legion gave a firing squad salute and played Taps to honor all of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and Mayor Tom Lazio gave a short speech about how much the monument means to the city of Ottumwa.

“Let us dedicate this memorial to the brave men and women ... who fought and continue to fight,” he said while the rain came down unreasonably hard.

Hellige said there will be a plaque placed on the monument that will give a history of the tree and the process that the project went through to be completed.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh

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