Veterans Day 2019 will be extra special for the area's military veterans, as a couple of key pieces will be added to the Veterans Memorial Park that is under construction at Broadway and 8th Avenue in Alexandria.
A life-size replica of the Liberty Bell that was created for the park will be brought there on Monday morning, along with the statue of a Civil War soldier that has stood on the lawn of the Douglas County Courthouse for more than a century.
The liberty bell's arrival was not expected this soon, said Russ Oorlog, an Army Vietnam veteran who is vice president of the park committee. But he said the people at the Fergus Falls Monument Company wanted to do it on Veterans Day, giving the public their first look at it on Nov. 11.
"We thought what a powerful day for us veterans to have it done on Veterans Day," Oorlog said.
Arrangements were made to load the semis and get the cranes here, and so on Monday, one lane of Broadway will be closed off between approximately 7 a.m. and noon.
"It's a very special lift," Oorlog said. That's because the liberty bell replica weighs about 10,000 pounds, he said, and the 9-foot-tall bell will be the centerpiece of Veterans Memorial Park.
"The architect took the exact specifications to size. It even has a crack in it exactly the size of the one in the Liberty Bell," Oorlog said. It was made with special granite, and will sit on an octagonal base that bears the words to the pledge of allegiance.
"It is unbelievable," he said.
For spectators who want to be there for the unveiling, he said that parking will be available in the area around the Legion Park site, including in the area of Bell Bank, since it will be closed for the holiday.
The nine flagpoles and the light posts may still go up this year, but Oorlog said that after Monday's installation — and the Walls of Honor that are currently being constructed — they will for the most part be closing down the site for the winter. Depending on the weather, he said that work on the bathrooms for the park may continue.
Construction on the park — a memorial for all area veterans, living and deceased — began this year, and it is on target to be dedicated on July 4, 2020.
"We're still fundraising," Oorlog said, "and people are stepping up."
For more information or to donate, visit the Veterans Memorial Park website at alexveteranspark.org.