CAMBRIDGE, Minn. (FOX 9) - Veterans in Cambridge have a big reason to celebrate on Saturday. The Veterans Memorial Park Committee is rededicating its park at the corner of Birch Street and 2nd Avenue with a ceremony to start at 3 p.m.
It’s a story about a community coming together. Several years ago, Clark Swanson had a dream of creating a garden-like space in Cambridge where veterans could be honored, and the public could come and sit and reflect.
In an interview with FOX 9 in 2020, Swanson said he didn’t want any guns, artillery, or tanks at the memorial, just a place focused on veterans. The businesses and community took Swanson’s idea and made it a reality.
A memorial committee designed a park to have benches, flowers, flags from all branches of the military, and space for eight marble stones. The stones would honor area veterans who would pay $250 to have their names engraved in the granite. When the memorial opened two years ago, they had enough names to fill three of the granite tablets. Swanson and the memorial committee figured it would take years, maybe decades, to fill the rest.
"I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime," Swanson said this week.
What he couldn’t anticipate was the outpouring of support. It was support he never saw when he returned from Vietnam. Swanson served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army from 1966-68. He served side-by-side with the U.S. Marines in the Battle of Khe Sanh.
"When I came home from Vietnam, I was a little bit disheartened by what happened and how we were treated and everything," Swanson said. "I thought in some way I’ve got to be able to reflect back on all of this and have a quiet place to for people to come and reflect upon brothers and sister, and aunts and uncles who were gone in the wars and everything and we can sit and reflect upon what has gone on in all this time."
In the past two years, veterans and their families bought up all the spaces on the remaining five granite tablets. They were lowered into place by crane operators on Wednesday. The Cambridge community will hold its rededication at the park on Saturday. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.