Granville rallies behind Legion for monument

Dedication set for Memorial Day

Jill Schramm/MDN Arland Mueller, Larry Johnson and Jeff Smette, from left to right, with Granville American Legion Post 155, stand next to the Military Memorial Monument installed at the Granville Cemetery.

GRANVILLE – Granville’s American Legion Post 155 will be dedicating a recently installed Military Memorial Monument at the Granville Cemetery during its Memorial Day Program Monday, May 27.

The post raised about $14,000 in less than a year and a half to fund the project.

Jeff Smette, adjutant for the post, said the monument project was a major undertaking for the post, which has declined from 105 members at one time to about 25 today.

The monument was the idea of Legion member Karl Wittstruck, a past commander. He understood the project was daunting, but he didn’t view it as impossible. Rather, he saw it as necessary.

Wittstruck, who witnessed the loss of numerous military comrades during his service in Beirut, Lebanon, said remembering is important.

“I just didn’t want the guys that served to disappear,” he said. Since moving to Granville a number of years ago, Wittstruck’s interest in remembering those who served grew to include a broader group of veterans.

“I said, well, we don’t have anything here, as far as Granville, as far as any dedicated monument for the people in our community. So, I started looking into it,” he said. He persistently pushed for a monument despite skepticism that a small post whose members were becoming less active as they aged could manage such a project. He stressed to fellow Legion members that the community had their backs, and he was right.

Seven area organizations and one individual each gave $1,000 or more. Funds also were raised through the Daryl Kuhnhenn Memorial Ride, and last year’s Memorial Day luncheon brought in $1,200.

The first $3,000 donation offered the post encouragement.

“That’s what kind of started it – thinking we could actually pull this off,” Smette said.

Many of the donations, though, consisted of money dropped in change jars or donated directly into the account at the local bank.

Wittstruck said the Legion in Granville used to do a lot for the community in caring for ball diamonds, sponsoring baseball for the youth and teaching hunter safety. Seeing Legion members come together for one more big project was heartwarming.

“I’m pretty proud of them,” he said.

The monument dedication will take place during the cemetery ceremony that follows the Memorial Day program Monday at 11 a.m. in the TGU Granville School gym. The speaker will be Mamie Havelka with the North Dakota American Legion. Lunch will be served at the Community Center from noon to 2 pm.

The monument features emblems of six branches of service. The branches are Army, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, Air Force and Space Force. Craig Monuments in Velva created and installed the granite monument.

The monument stands in the Granville Cemetery on an existing cement base on which crosses have long stood in recognition of the post’s namesake veterans. The Burchett-Beck-Barnett-Brown Post 155 was chartered on Jan. 30, 1920.

Nelson Burchett died at Fort Riley, Kansas, on Dec. 26, 1917, five months after enlisting, and is buried in his home state of Missouri. Howard Beck was inducted in September 1917 and was killed in action overseas on Nov. 2, 1918. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Harold Brown was born in Granville in 1920 and entered the U.S. Army in April 1941. He served in the European-African-Middle East theaters and died on Oct. 22, 1943, in Italy. He is buried at the Granville Cemetery.

John Barnett was born at Sanish in 1919 and entered the Army in March 1942. He served in the European-African-Middle East theaters and was killed in action on Jan. 5, 1944, in Germany. His place of burial is unknown.


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