Members of The American Legion, Sons of the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary of Livingston County, New York joined forces with other veteran organizations, local veterans and their families in the creation of the Livingston County Veteran Monument. Participants ranged from ages four to 98. Veterans came together in unity to create 250 metal poppies. The creation of this monument is unique because it was made by veterans for veterans, and its purpose is to celebrate the veteran population and showcase local veteran organizations such as The American Legion.
In October 2018 Jason Skinner, director of the Livingston County Veteran Services Agency, first pitched a poppy monument idea to Olie Olson, metal trades teacher to junior and senior high school students at Genesee Valley Education Partnership in Mt. Morris, New York. Olson came up with the idea of an American flag-shaped monument made with red metal poppies. He stipulated that veterans had to be involved in making the poppies. Along with his teacher assistant, Rory Benkleman, they volunteered their time after school to teach welding and guide veterans through the process. Skinner proposed the partnership to the Livingston County Board of Supervisors. With many initial unknowns, a unanimous vote of approval was made for the Livingston County Veteran Monument to be established.
While veterans made poppies, site development was under the leadership of Marine Corps veteran/leader of Patriot Guard Riders, and superintendent of the Livingston County Highway Department, Don Higgins. 5,000 tons of gravel and crusher run materials were compacted and spread as the foundation; extensive drainage systems in place for integrity of the site overtime and accessible parking were made. Rather than competing, four local paving companies worked together to pave a six-inch-thick 125.5’ X 65’ flag shaped monument. 250 red poppies serve as the seven red stripes, and range from 1’ to 5’ tall and will swivel to emulate a waiving flag in prevailing winds. Six white stripes are sidewalks between poppies, and blue canton is reserved for ceremonies surrounded by branch flags.
This is not a memorial but a monument, made by veterans for veterans, that epitomizes the greater good of our veteran community and its organizations. A dedication ceremony will be held at 2:30 pm on November 11, 2019 in Geneseo, N.Y.