Kowall calls for restoration and preservation of Michigan War Veterans Memorial

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall said on Friday that due to rapid deterioration and the sale of historic State Fairgrounds property, the Michigan War Veterans Memorial in Detroit must be relocated and restored as soon as possible to save the monument.

Kowall said a group of concerned citizens has joined together and is in ongoing discussions with a variety of nonprofit organizations interested in assisting with the relocation and funding of the memorial.

“The Michigan War Veterans Memorial is a noble tribute honoring Michigan’s military veterans,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “We want to restore this important monument to honor the history of the veterans who built it and preserve it for years to come”

The memorial represents more than 300 veteran service organizations from Michigan and Canada. The vast majority of veterans represented served in World War I, with others serving in wars through the Vietnam War era. The memorial has resided on the corner of Woodward Avenue and East State Fair Avenue since its unveiling on Veterans Day in 1939. Decades of exposure to the elements, coupled with more recent vandalism, have brought decay.

The restoration will include landscaping the new location for the memorial, restoration of the existing monument, maintenance of the monument once it is erected, and ongoing improvements.

“Discussions have been ongoing with the state to determine an appropriate location for the monument to be relocated,” Kowall said. “The Department of Natural Resources is currently developing a master plan for Milliken State Park that will include a proposed location for the memorial.”

Kowall said a booth is planned for Vets Fest at the Detroit Veterans Day Parade and will include renderings of the potential restored monument site.

“The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs as well as the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency are proud to assist this effort and want to thank Senator Kowall for his leadership with this project and thank all of the partners that are committing their own time and resources to preserve this important monument,” said Maj. Gen. Mike Stone, Michigan Army National Guard assistant adjutant general.

Donations for the project can be made through Heritage Michigan at www.heritagemichigan.org. Any donations should be marked “vets.” Heritage Michigan is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that partners with state agencies, organizations and individual donors to protect, preserve and promote Michigan’s rich and diverse history.

The Veterans Memorial currently resides on the Michigan State Fairgrounds property. The site hosted the Michigan State Fair from 1905 until 2009. In 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation allowing the transfer of the site to the Michigan Land Bank to return the site to productive use. The Michigan Land Bank has executed purchase agreements with the city of Detroit and Magic Plus, LLC to redevelop the historic 157-acre property in Detroit. The Michigan State Fairgrounds site is one of the largest developable parcels of land in the city and represents an opportunity to create economic growth and continued community development.

The more than 300 veteran service organizations from Michigan and Canada represented in the monument include (but are not limited to) the American Legion, American Veterans, Catholic War Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans, Marine Corps League, Polish League of American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Vietnam Veterans of America.

For questions, inquiries or referrals, please contact Kowall’s Director of District & Veteran Affairs Lynn O’Brien at 248-245-9755.

Note: For a print-quality version of this photo or other Kowall photos, click the image or select Photowire under the Media Center tab, above.