Through community philanthropy and the tireless work of local veterans and the VMP Committee, the Veterans Memorial Park was built as an outdoor gathering place for veterans, military members, families, and community members to celebrate, recognize, remember, and honor the lives of those who are serving or have served in the United States Military.
Veterans Memorial Park Features
- Five Obelisks representing each of the five branches of military service
- Educational Memorial Granite Wall with laser-etched images depicting the American veteran role from the first wars and conflicts to the latest electronic warfare
- Visitor Center with interactive educational kiosk and restrooms
- Anchor from the USS Kiska, a Navy ammunition ship that saw service during the Vietnam War
- Walk of Honor* – Path of memorial stones to honor loved ones who have served or are currently serving*
- Park Benches for meditation & reflection
- Park Shelters for gatherings and events
- Future development incorporating additional military equipment
Brief History of the Park
The Veterans Memorial Park vision began a number of years ago with a veteran named Roger Westerso. He envisioned a park with a wall and various sculptures complemented by five pillars, each representing a branch of the military. A portion of his artwork was added to a Harley Davidson chopper which became the “Veterans Memorial Bike”. Don Purpur and John Hanson met at the 2011 Red River Valley Motorcyclists Show where the bike was on display.
Don and John began a discussion on the importance of building a Veterans Memorial Park (VMP). Our community has a rich military tradition from the North Dakota National Guard’s 164th Infantry dating back to 1885, the Grand Forks Air Force Base dating back to the 1950’s, and the thousands of community members who have served or are serving honorably in the military throughout the world.
Prominent support began with the Grand Forks Park District, the Grand Forks Parks & Recreation Foundation, the Red River Valley Motorcyclists, the City of Grand Forks, veteran organizations, and local veterans. The Grand Forks Park District generously offered the land at 2357 S 34th St, for the VMP and a groundbreaking was held on July 8, 2015. The Anchor from the U.S.S. Kiska was placed in the VMP on August 22, 2016.
Beginning in 2017, the VMP Officers and Committee Members under Chair Gen Al Palmer came together to make a vision a reality. Gen Palmer, Gary Shields, and Mike Hagen with their major fundraising activities, have led to the installation of: The Memorial Wall, the five Obelisks, the five shelters, the five Service Benches, the 15 Park Benches, the Gen Al Palmer Visitor Center, and the Donor Recognition Wall. Planning for the installation of General Atomics “Reaper”, a Northrop Grumman “Global Hawk” and a B-52 Bomber is underway.
As the Veterans Memorial Park Committee pursued the vision, donations from numerous patriotic individuals, families, businesses, and organizations have made this beautiful park a destination location.
*Walk of Honor – Memorial Stones Update
The Grand Forks Park District has NOT finished planting all the granite blocks that have been ordered by the public. Various issues including supply chain problems have backed up our ability to fulfill the orders as quickly as we had initially planned.
At this time, all the block orders that have come in after about the Spring of 2021 are still not planted along the walkway. Unfortunately, we do not have a definitive timeline of when these blocks will be completed. The Park District is diligently working with the partnered contractors to have the blocks planted along the walkway as soon as possible.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.