Friday JohnKu – AKA – TGIF – Fri-Yay/Good News

Today’s good news story comes from Boyd’s Land of 10,000 Stories. Here it is without edit.

A 15-year-old decided his town needed a veterans memorial. He raised $77,000 and built one

Dominique Claseman built Olivia, Minnesota a veterans memorial for his Eagle Scout project. He finished it before his 17th birthday.
Boyd Huppert

OLIVIA, Minn. — When a 15-year-old boy came to the Olivia City Council with plans to build his hometown a veterans memorial, Mayor Jon Hawkinson wondered if the lad had bitten off more than he could chew.

Yet, there was something about Dominique Claseman.

“He had architect drawings, he had the space picked out,” the mayor recalls.

And perhaps most importantly, “He knew there would be people in our community who would want to donate to something like this,” the mayor recalls.

Today, no skeptics remain.

On Memorial Day, several hundred people gathered for the dedication of Olivia’s new veterans memorial, completed by Dominique as his Eagle Scout project a few weeks before his 17th birthday.

Credit: Devin Krinke, KARE 11
Aerial view of the Olivia veterans memorial built by Dominique Claseman

Ron Kopacek, who headed up the dedication’s honor guard, was amazed as anyone that Dominique pulled it off. “Fifteen years old, sophomore in high school, he’s going to raise $12,000 to $15,000 we’re thinking, ‘What? Really?’”

Turns out Dominque didn’t just raise his starting goal of $12,000 to $15,000.

He collected more than $77,000.

“I question myself on how I even did it sometimes,” Dominque says with a smile.

Dominique hung flyers in businesses, did interviews with the local newspaper and radio station, and set up a table to pitch his project during events at the Olivia American Legion.

Credit: Boyd Huppert, KARE 11
17-year-old Dominique Claseman was 15 when he started raising money to build Olivia, Minnesota a veterans memorial

As purchases of engraved pavers and other donations exceeded Dominique’s expectations, he expanded his vision of what the memorial could be.

“I wanted to show more appreciation in a bigger way,” says Dominique, who comes from a long line of men who served their country. Among them: Dominique’s father, who wore his Iraq combat boots, at Dominique’s request, to leave 21 foot prints in the memorial’s wet cement.

Mark Jurgensen, who serves as a Boy Scout scoutmaster, isn’t surprised his son saw the project through to its grand conclusion.

“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,” Mark says.

On dedication day, a stream of people walked through the memorial, reading the 280 pavers engraved with the names of men and women with Olivia ties who served in the military, some who gave their lives for their country.

Credit: Devin Krinke, KARE 11
On dedication day, hundreds of people stopped to see the Olivia veterans memorial

The U.S. flag, the Minnesota flag, and the POW flag fluttered over the honored names, a central headstone, black granite benches and bronze statues.

Off to one side of the memorial, Kim Wertish hugged Dominique tightly. “Thank you,” she told him.

Kim’s son James was killed in Iraq on July 16, 2009, with two other members of the Minnesota National Guard, Carlos Wilcox and Dan Drevnick, whose names are also etched in the memorial.

“James has been honored in many cities through connections with the military, and that’s dear to us also, but this is our hometown,” Kim says.

Dave Wertish, James’ father, says of Dominique, “He’s got a good heart.”

Dominque also has a knack for raising money.

Credit: Devin Krinke, KARE 11
Kim Wertish, whose son James was killed in Iraq, hugs Dominique Claseman

“This is something special,” says Aaron Russell, a district executive with the Boy Scouts of America. “We were trying to figure out if there’s been in recent memory a project of this scale, especially with the money raised. We couldn’t think or find anything even close to it.”

Aaron smiles, then adds. “I’m an Eagle Scout myself and I raised, maybe $700, $800 for (his project) total, and I thought that was tough at the time. I can’t even imagine.”

The memorial is in Olivia’s Kubesh Park, near the intersection of U.S. Highways 71 and 212.

In early May, Dominique dug a shovel of dirt in a ceremonial groundbreaking, before turning the job over to the contractors he hired.

Dominique hopes his two younger brothers will one day expand the memorial for their own Eagle Scout projects.

Credit: Devin Krinke, KARE 11
Dominique Claseman addresses the crowd at the dedication of the Oliva veterans memorial he built

Dominique was among the speakers at the dedication.

“The memorial before you is the result of the generosity and support that I, and the veterans of community, have received,” Dominique told the assembled crowd.

Mark Hebig drove two hours to attend the ceremony. His father, Alfred Hebig, served in Korea and is listed on one of the pavers.

“I never knew him very good because he was killed in a car accident when I was 1 year old,” Hebig said, holding back tears. “It’s been a long time, but you still always remember.”

Credit: Devin Krinke, KARE 11
Mark Hebig drove two hours to see his father’s stone at the Olivia veterans memorial
The good news here is that one person made a difference for so many. Today’s JohnKu talks about making a difference. I hope you have a beautiful weekend
Dominoes by John W. Howell © 2022
One good deed can trip,
A reaction of good deeds. . .
That could span the world.

78 comments

  1. A tremendous achievement for such a young man, and it benefits everyone who comes to that space. What a great story to kick off the weekend, Boss. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Marc. He is amazing for sure.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Great stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing, Michael.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing the information, John! It’s a wonderful memorial, indeed. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes it is. Thanks, Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  3. When you hear stories like this, we know we will be handing the world over to some to very good people. Thanks for sharing this story about this remarkable young man.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. A very good point, Darlene. Thank you. 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Stories like this help restore my faith in today’s youth. We hear a lot of bad things, but there are good ones out there as well.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. There are good ones. I’m glad for that. Thanks, Joan 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  5. What an outstanding young man! He was obviously raised with principles that gave him the character to pull this off!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I loved how everyone doubted that he could raise $15,000 and then went on to raise $77,000. Your point is well taken, GP. 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  6. What an impressive young man! The memorial must mean the world to the people of his town. Your JohnKu is spot-on.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think it helped bring some closure to some folks. Thanks, Liz.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re welcome, John.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Cool story. Eagle Scouts tend to come up with interesting projects.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. They do. Thanks, Charles.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. We never know what we can do until we try! Love this.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trying is the most important thing. Thanks, Annette.

      Like

  9. Love this story. Heard the report on NPR the other day and thought, ‘Isn’t it amazing the impact just one person can have?’ Thank you, John,many Happy Friday!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Amazing young man.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He is. Thanks, Craig.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. What a remarkable young man. Thanks for sharing this, John!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Teri. 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  12. What an incredible young man! He would get my vote for President! Thanks so much for sharing this, John.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with you, Jill. He has my vote as well. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  13. John, what a terrific story. It should be on the headline of every news organization’s lead. As a former Scoutmaster, I know what a difficult challenge it can be to do an Eagle project. Thanks for posting. Have a great weekend

    Liked by 3 people

    1. As an Eagle Scout I share your opinion about the challenge. Thanks, Steve.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Congratulations, I’m not surprised that you are.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ha ha ha. Thanks, Steve.

        Like

  14. Gwen M. Plano · · Reply

    My goodness, this brought me to tears. Dominique is an impressive young man. At such a young age, he decided to honor those who otherwise might be forgotten — except by family members. If he is representative of our youth, we’ve cause to hope for our broken world. Thank you for sharing, John. Beautiful post. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hope in a broken world is a lovely way to describe this story, Gwen. Thank you. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Good story John. It is a fastinating thing to see possibility become reality. And to see a person realize they are capable of amazing things.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, John. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. What an impressive young man! Goes to show you that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind and energy to it. I wish we had a thousand more like this kid!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Or maybe a million. Thanks, Noelle.

      Like

  17. It’s fantastic to see a teen in the news for something as wonderful as this and restores my faith in the adults of the future. Your poem is spot on, John. Thanks for sharing! Have a wonderful weekend 💕🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have a wonderful weekend as well, Harmony. Thanks. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Reblogged this on T. W. Dittmer and commented:
    This story of an amazing young man raised my hopes for the human race.

    Like

    1. Thank you, Tim

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Thanks for this, John. I just had to share it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea and thanks for sharing. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  20. What an amazing kid. Thank you for sharing this story, John.
    Hapy Friday to you and your gang!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy Friday to you Dale. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  21. That memorial looks fantastic. This has to be one of the all-time greatest Eagle Scout projects ever completed. I think the young man deserves all the badges they can possibly give him. We honor ourselves when we honor the past. Thanks for sharing this, John.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure, Bruce. You are right about the badges. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  22. What an amazing young man! Thanks for sharing, John!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He is amazing. Thanks, Jan.

      Like

  23. D.L. Finn, Author · · Reply

    It is amazing when an idea gets brought forth into reality.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is amazing. And one that benefits a number of folks. Thanks, Denise.

      Like

  24. With youths like that in our future, I don’t worry about it. Compassion, dedication and fortitude, that is our future.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I saw this one on TV — what a great story! Thanks for spreading the good word, John.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a good story. Thanks for your thoughts, Debbie.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. petespringerauthor · · Reply

    You know this is my kind of story, John. (I’m sure it’s many people’s kind of story.) I especially like that you’re highlighting one of the many fine young people that are part of our communities. This is why I get so bent out of shape when people go off on “kids these days” as if there were only great kids when we were children—much respect to Dominique for having the vision and belief in himself to make this dream come true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He did make it happens so kudos to him. Thanks, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. You make a difference just by posting this, John. Thank you!

    Like

    1. Aww. Thank you, Becky. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re so welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  28. What an amazing story and young man, John. Since my husband is an Eagle Scout and former scoutmaster, along with my son being an Eagle Scout, I understand what it takes to plan an Eagle project and see it to fruition. Thanks for sharing such a heartwarming story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure. I am also an Eagle Scout so I was immediately struck with the degree of difficulty in this project.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Fantastic! What a great thing Dominique accomplished.
    He’s made many proud, happy and feel special.
    I hope the good deed does spread, as your JohnKu suggests.
    The world needs to move in that direction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He certainly proved the naysayers wrong. Thanks, Resa.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. What a wonderful story, John. I love it when I read about young people showing serious respect for veterans. It happened around here (also and Eagle Scout project) and it makes me proud.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I knew about the one at your park.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. That kid’s going to get college scholarships for sure. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope so. What a project!!!! Thanks, Betsey.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. What a great young man. So many times you hear the bad, it’s nice to see the good. Stori8es like these should be front and center rather than the negative ones. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Michele. Sad thing most want to run only the bad.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing the post.

      Like

  33. This is just wonderful! Thank you for highlighting this story and fine young man, John.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He is a special person.

      Liked by 1 person

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