GRAFTON — On the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Grafton Mayor Mike Morrow and the city have taken significant steps to honor veterans with a new memorial project. The City of Grafton established a Veteran’s Commission in December 2022 to explore opportunities to honor veterans, leading to the creation of the Grafton War Memorial Commission. The commission's vision includes a Veteran’s Memorial Complex featuring a museum.

Grafton Mayor Mike MorrowThe memorial, planned to be set against the limestone bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, will have a life-sized reproduction of U.S. Army Rangers climbing the Pointe du Hoc cliffs, a scene reminiscent of the D-Day landings.

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"We owe our freedoms we have today to the sacrifices those soldiers and other military members made that day," Morrow said. "It was a turning point in World War II."

This past week, Carolina Bronze Sculpture 3D scanned approximately 20 models for the statues that will depict soldiers climbing the bluffs near the Grafton Visitor’s Center. The memorial will feature 15 life-size bronze statues modeled after the Pointe du Hoc scene. The planned memorial serves as a tribute to the 255 soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach in 1944, of whom only 90 survived.

Morrow, who served for 33 years, expressed his gratitude for the support the project has received. "Grafton has received a ton of heartfelt support and gratitude for this project," he said. Morrow credits his military mentors for his own personal and professional development and looks forward to the impact the Heroes’ Ascent project will have on Grafton and the nation.

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The project has garnered international attention, including a recent $5,000 donation from France. Morrow anticipates visitors from across Europe will come to see the new memorial. "This date, June 6, is a remarkable one in history where some made an immeasurable sacrifice of courage," he said.

The NMMA, with Morrow as president, Don Chamberlain as treasurer, and Brittney Weber as secretary, along with members Ben Goetten, Dr. Jennifer Capper, Tom Woelfel, and Don Bechtold, continues to oversee the project’s development.

Fundraising for the project is underway. You can support the memorial by donating online at graftonmemorial.org or by dropping off a donation at the Grafton Visitor’s center. Raging Rivers is hosting a family fun event for the NMMA on Friday evening, June 7, 2024. “Storm the Beach” Tickets are priced at $40 for adults and $20 for children under 12. Proceeds will be donated to the National Memorial of Military Ascent (NMMA).

For more information about the history of D-Day, check out this story on RiverBender.com. There are several commemorative ceremonies happening around the world today, both in the U.S. and Europe. This is the history of what happened on June 6.

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