Acts of Kindness
15-year-old raises $77,000 to build veterans memorial for his community
The city was skeptical of the young teen's plan but he showed everyone what he was capable of.
Cherie Gozon
08.04.22

Our veterans deserve to be honored and celebrated in the best way possible. Their years of service and sacrifice could never amount to any medal or recognition, but it’s a grand gesture, nonetheless.

Unsplash - Sydney Rae
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Unsplash - Sydney Rae

Even more, we should honor and memorialize those who died serving the country. Those who were killed in the middle of the war or suffered trauma, depression, and other illness befell them after.

Unsplash - Chad Madden
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Unsplash - Chad Madden

When a 15-year-old proposed something of that sort, the city was skeptical of his plans. But others believed in his vision and made an impossibly colossal task for a teenager become possible.

Dominique’s tribute to veterans

Dominique Claseman had a plan in mind. In fact, he had architectural design and rendition of what he had in mind. As his Eagle Scout project, he wanted to build a veteran’s memorial in his hometown, Olivia, Minnesota.

YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11
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YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11

He was only 15 years old then, and Mayor Jon Hawkinson had his doubts. While he commended Dominique’s idea, he thought that maybe “he was biting off more than he could chew.”

YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11
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YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11

Aside from his design, he also already picked a place where he wanted to build it. But the thing he was confident about the most was the community’s support.

The community chipped in

“He knew there would be people in our community who would want to donate to something like this,” Mayor Hawkinson told 11 Alive.

A project such as a veterans memorial would take a separate city committee to spearhead such a plan. It would also take months (even years) of planning and fundraising to do something like this.

YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11
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YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11

However, Dominique had none of that. Instead, he had an entire community who supported him in his vision. His goal was to raise around $12,000 to $15,000. With the community’s support paired with his hard work and dedication, he raised a whopping $77,000. Even he could not fathom how he made it happen.

Olivia’s Veterans Memorial

On Memorial Day, and right before his 17th birthday, they completed Olivia’s Veterans Memorial. Hundreds of people went there during its inauguration to celebrate this momentous event and remember their dearly departed.

YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11
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YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11

On that day, the flags of the United States, Minnesota, and POW hung and fluttered towards the sky. Among them were honored names carved on pavers, a central headstone, bronze statues, and black granite benches.

YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11
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YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11

Families flocked there to thank Dominique’s efforts and were grateful that someone at such young age had the passion for honoring these veterans. He, himself, came from a long line of veterans in his family and would like to honor each one of them.

His innate nature of kindness

If there was someone who was so proud of Dominique, it was his parents. His father and Boy Scout scoutmaster Mark Jurgensen wasn’t surprised at this remarkable feat at all.

YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11
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YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11

“He’s one of them kind of kids that likes to make sure that he doesn’t disappoint anybody, and he strives really hard for that,” he said.

YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - KARE 11

Dominique’s mother, Wendy Jurgensen, also said that she would never get tired of being recognized through his son’s efforts as people kept asking, “Is your son the Eagle Scout?” to which she always proudly replied: “Yes, he is.”

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By Cherie Gozon
hi@sbly.com
Cherie Gozon is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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