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‘We Fought for Freedom:’ Michigan WWII Veterans Welcome Memorial – CBS Detroit

ROYAL OAK, Michigan (AP) – Michigan officials are ready to embark on construction of what they say is one of the few state-specific World War II memorials in the country.

Art Fishman is thrilled that the project is taking another step towards reality.

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The Oak Park resident, who sailed on a Navy destroyer in the Pacific theater at the age of 18, was to be among those present Thursday afternoon when ground broke for the Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial .

“It’s more important than people think. Why? Because, if handled well, it will teach the next generation what war was, why we were there, why we fought. We fought for freedom,” said Fishman, 95, who sailed aboard the USS Robinson in 1945 during stops in the Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and China.

The groundbreaking is for the first phase of the memorial, which includes the laying of more than 1,200 donated Walk of Honor paving bricks and the installation of a statue called “Joe”, which depicts a soldier in a foxhole reading a letter from the house, and masts representing all the military branches.

Future phases will include a wall of stars honoring the more than 15,000 lives lost in Michigan during World War II; additional statues, including one dedicated to Rosie the Riveter; an amphitheater and a colonnade of pillars.

The memorial, recognized by the Legislature as the state’s tribute to the war, is to be built at Memorial Park in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak.

Members of the committee overseeing the project said the United States doesn’t have many state-specific World War II memorials, but some do, including New York and Washington.

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“Michigan has had such a significant impact on the war front, with brave men and women fighting against tyranny, and also on the home front with the Arsenal of Democracy and other contributions across the State,” said John Maten, Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial president. .

Ethel “Cricket” Poland, 102, is one of those who played an important role on the home front, as a code breaker with the Navy.

Poland, who has lived in Michigan since the 1960s, served for three years in Washington, DC, in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) program.

“Although my part in the war was very small, I think it was worth it,” said Poland, who planned to be in Royal Oak for Thursday’s ceremony.

More than a dozen veterans’ organizations are expected to attend, including members of the American Legion, Tuskegee Airmen, disabled American veterans and Michigan Jewish veterans.

Fishman was to speak on behalf of the assembled World War II veterans.

“Maybe that’s the reason I lived so long is that I could see something that I felt so sincerely that should happen,” he said. “So everyone could see what the big generation really was.”

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