Pass by the Macomb County Administration Building today and a 4-by-4 block of concrete is the only indication that this location will one day be home to the “Heart of America,” Macomb County’s first memorial to the servicemen and women killed in the war on terrorism.
The monument itself won’t be ready until July, but local officials, members of VFW Mount Clemens Post 1794 and the memorial’s designers broke ground Tuesday on the monument’s future home at the corner of Gratiot and Cass avenues in Mount Clemens.
“This memorial is going to the soldiers who gave their lives in the global war on terrorism,” said Phil Randazzo, a Shelby Township resident and Vietnam veteran who was instrumental in bringing the monument to Macomb. “We wanted to make sure (Macomb County) got a front-row seat to their heroism. When we’re all long gone, their names will still be here.”
When the nine-foot tall granite monument is unveiled this summer, it will include the names of 13 Macomb County servicemen and women killed in action in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere since war on terror began in 2001.
“I’ve seen enough people die away and not be recognized,” Randazzo said, remembering his own service in Vietnam. “I couldn’t help them in the battlefield, but I can do this here.”
VFW Mount Clemens Post 1794 Commander Rick Speck echoed Randazzo's statements.
"It will give these (men and women) recognition and let their families know we haven't forgotten," he said. "I hope there won't be anymore names added, but the reality of the story is there will be a lot more."
That the “Heart of America” will be located in Mount Clemens, the heart of Macomb County, is fitting for County Executive Mark Hackel.
“From the county’s perspective, there is no better place," he said. In addressing the crowd gathered at the groundbreaking, Hackel also reiterated his support Selfridge Air National Guard Base as well, which is in danger of losing of hundreds of jobs under a recent Air Force proposal. "We need to stand up for those who stand up for the U.S.," he added.
Funded wholly by private donations, Randazzo estimates the memorial will cost approximately $50,000-$60,000 to complete.
Designed by Randazzo’s wife, Norma Jean, the monument’s body will be in the shape of the Pentagon and at its top will rest design elements resembling the Twin Towers and a globe to represent the worldwide impact of the war on terrorism.
Engraved granite pavers, which can be purchased at www.LincolnGranite.com, will surround the base of the memorial.
Those interested in donating to the memorial can purchase a paver through www.LincolnGranite.com, or call Randazzo directly at 586-739-4046.