In honor and tribute to the men and women of the armed forces who defend America in war and peace. Past, present, and future... all forces and all times.

Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial

About/History of the Veterans Memorial

The project began with a member of the Marine Corps League in Bemidji, MCL Det. 585. He was the driving force behind the project and his enthusiasm and dedication soon had other members joining forces with him as a committee. Out of this committee the name “Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial” and idea for a statue of a nationally known hero was developed.

The committee became a board, fund-raising began and a sculptor was selected to design the first statue, former United States Marine, Charles W. “Chuck” Lindberg.

The memorial features several elements designed to honor all men and women of the armed forces—all forces and all times. Features include the following:

  • Life-sized bronze statue of Marine Cpl. "Chuck" Lindberg
  • Nine Flags stand as the backdrop to the memorial
  • Six stone pillars dedicated to the six branches of US service: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines.
  • Walk of Honor, a path around the memorial honoring veterans
  • Service Dogs, Canine Sculpture, dedicated to the memorial on September 20, 2014
The Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial is located downtown Bemidji, MN.
Memorial Location:
Downtown Bemidji, MN near the Beltrami County History Center.
130 Minnesota Ave SW Bemidji, MN
View Map
Questions? Please contact us!
Kelly Booge, Treasurer
218-751-3258
kelbooge@paulbunyan.net
 
Lee Coe, Chair
218-243-2597
leecoe@paulbunyan.net

Marine "Chuck" Lindberg

A life-sized bronze statue of Marine Cpl. “Chuck” Lindberg, the last living flag raiser at Iwo Jima, is situated as a focal point of the memorial. Sculpted by local artist Jim Paulsen.

The statue of Bemidji's Charles Lindberg, above, is mounted on a six foot pillar with two bronze plaques attached which give a dedication and a statement of purpose for the memorial.

Bronze statue of Charles W. "Chuck" Lindberg

Bronze plaque attached to the pillar supporting the statue of Charles Lindberg, shows the location, date and time of the first flag raising plus three significant battles in which he fought.

Seven flags stand as the backdrop to the Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial, surrounding the rear perimeter.Nine Flags

Nine flags stand as the backdrop to the memorial. The American flag, POW-MIA, State of Minnesota, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine flags all line the memorial, rear perimeter.

Nine flags stand as the backdrop to the memorial.

Stone Pillars

Figures of military men and women from all services (each weighing six tons!) representing various ethnicities and races, have been laser-etched into large stone pillars erected on the memorial site.

One of six pillars that surround the Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial.
One of six pillars that surround the Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial.
One of six pillars that surround the Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial.
One of six pillars that surround the Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial.
One of six pillars that surround the Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial.
One of six pillars that surround the Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial.

Air Force

Army

Coast Guard

Marine

Merchant Marine

Navy

Walk of Honor

The Walk of Honor, a path on the memorial site, consists of engraved granite paver bricks designed to recognize those who have served and are currently serving in the armed forces.

Please consider participating in the Walk of Honor. It is a chance to recognize a freedom defender personally as well an opportunity to support the memorial in the future.

Walk of Honor surrounding the Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial.
Walk of Honor surrounding the Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial.

Walk of Honor

Service Dogs

In recognition, tribute and honor of their outstanding contribution in conflicts from the Pacific Islands of World War II to the mountains of Afghanistan and the many wars in between, these veterans of America's conflicts have served faithfully in all branches of the military, sometimes paying the ultimate price.

Today, canines serve in law enforcement, carefully watching for hidden dangers and keeping out border secure. In peace, they provide dedication, loyal support and companionship to wounded warriors, to the critically ill and disabled, allowing independence that could not be achieved without them.

Keen senses, strong loyalty and steady vigilance have made them an unsung hero in America's storied past. Without them, many people would have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and with them, many people have come to know hope, recover, and independence.

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."

-- Author Unknown

The Service Dogs Sculpture is the newest addition to the Bemidji Veterans Memorial, dedicated on September 20, 2014.

The Canine Sculpture, for Service Dogs, was dedicated to the Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial on September 20, 2014

The Service Dogs Sculpture is the newest addition to the Bemidji Veterans Memorial, dedicated on September 20, 2014.
Service Dogs Sculpture

Timeline for the Creation of the Memorial

2001 – North Country Detachment of MCL votes to build a U.S. Marine Corps Memorial of Marine Charles W. Lindberg. Permission is granted. Committee formed and development and fundraising discussed. After a national search, a bronze sculpture is commissioned to local artist James Paulson, of Becida, MN.

 

2002 – Memorial plans are expanded to include all branches of the service. Site to be built in three phases: statue, flags, and stone wall (later, it became stone pillars). A fundraiser dinner, live auction, and raffle for Charles Lindberg are held to raise money for the memorial.

 

2003 – Held “Virgil’s” famous roast beef dinner and silent auction at the Eagle’s Club. Committee meetings continue. Meetings with representatives of Parks and Trails. Funds and pledge money are secured from local businesses.

 

2004 – Grant requests to The Nielson Foundation and The Blandin Foundation are Prepared. Appeals to other branches of service made. Focus on Air Force and its relationship with Marines in the Pacific.

 

2005 – Approval of plans by the Historical Center Board for the site alongside the History Center in downtown Bemidji. Approval of plans by City Council. Groundbreaking is slated for April 2006.

 

2006 – Memorial Dedication Day is May 20, 2006 which included 400 people in attendance. The main speaker was retired U. S. Army National Guard Sgt., Major Kelly Booge. Joe Aitken from the Indian Resource Center also spoke to highlight Native American Veteran contributions. First orders for Walk of Honor paver bricks are made.

 

May 2006 – First Dedication of the Memorial. Lindberg Statue and Flagpoles are present. Program included Bagpiper and Bugler, and Flag Raisers from each branch of the Service. Speakers included Joe Vene, Sgt. Major Kelly Booge of Army National Guard, and Joe Aitken of the American Indian Resource Center of Bemidji. Over 400 attend.

 

August 9, 2008 – Second Dedication. Attended by honoree, Marine Charles "Chuck" Lindberg and Sculptor Jim Paulson. Speakers include U.S. Navy Commander Keith Wettschreck, Vetterstone Chairman Howard Vetter, and U.S. Army Sgt. Major Kelly Booge.

 

September 20, 2014 – Service Dog Dedication

Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial
130 Minnesota Ave. SW  Bemidji, MN 56601
© 2014-2017 Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial
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Additional Information:

Lee Coe, Chair
218-243-2597
leecoe@paulbunyan.net