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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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