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Honor and remember: Supper-comedy event raises funds for planned Brewster Veterans Memorial

BREWSTER -- Over the last couple of years, the Brewster Veterans Memorial has begun to take shape both in Tom Behrends' mind and in the architect's drawings. Soon, the monument will take solid form, paver by paver, in the community's park.

Brewster Veterans Memorial
An architect's rendering of the planned Brewster Veterans Memorial shows the 9-11 twin towers replica at the entrance. (submitted photo)

BREWSTER -- Over the last couple of years, the Brewster Veterans Memorial has begun to take shape both in Tom Behrends’ mind and in the architect’s drawings. Soon, the monument will take solid form, paver by paver, in the community’s park.

Behrends, himself a veteran having served with the Minnesota National Guard’s 1-125th Field Artillery Battalion, 34th Division, in Iraq and member of both the Brewster American Legion and Sons of the American Legion, has spearheaded the effort to build a veterans memorial in Brewster. The design incorporates ideas from other community’s memorials, but also has a few features that will make it unique.

“I guess since I’m an Iraq vet, I looked at the boot stand,” said Behrends, referring to the custom of arranging a fallen soldier’s boots, rifle and helmet as a memorial, “as being an iconic image for our time frame, then with a soldier kneeling or praying in front of it.”

Additionally, Behrends wanted to pay tribute to one of his own comrades, Sgt. Kyle Miller, who died in Iraq in 206 while serving with the 34th Division. He got in contact with Miller’s mother, and she gave permission for a bronze statue of her son to be part of the Brewster monument.

Like many such memorials, pavers will be part of the design: Black pavers will be engraved with the name, rank and unit and branch of service, conflict and dates of service for area veterans. But there will also be gray pavers to recognized people who have served their country and community in other ways

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“Anyone else will be in gray,” said Behrends, referencing firefighters, emergency medical personnel, Sons of the American Legion members, Legion auxiliary members and even businesses that might want to support the memorial and be part of it. “I know that my brother stayed back and held down the farm while I was gone. … They’re doing their part for their country, too, and I know I would be honored to have them surrounding me.”

Some other components will pay tribute to those who lost their lives during the 9-11 terrorist attacks on American soil. At the entrance to the memorial site will stand 1:200 scale models of the World Trace Center twin towers. Beyond the towers will be the Walk of Honor, honoring the 34th Division Red Bulls with pavers appropriately set in groups of 34.

At the walk’s end, a pentagon-shaped monument will recall the attack on the Pentagon on 9-11, with the five branches of the service inscribed on it, topped with the statue of Miller. Four flags -- U.S., state, POW/MIA and the Honor-Remember flag, which was specifically requested by Miller’s mother -- will be surrounded by landscaping meant to honor the 9-11 victims on Flight 93, which crashed into a meadow near Shanksville, Pa.

Benches will allow people to sit and reflect on the monument’s meaning.

“It’s coming together real well,” said Behrends about the design and fundraising for the project. “The Legion itself had a nest egg built up from bingo and whatever over the years, and the Sons of the American Legion has done really well with our bean bag tournaments and raffles.”

Paver sales have also gone well, Behrends noted, and there is room for many more to be incorporated into the design so it can be expanded well into the future. He expects construction of the monument to begin sometime yet this summer and continue into the fall, with a target of dedicating it next summer.

But some fundraising is still necessary, and such an event is planned for Friday evening --  a pork chop dinner and comedy show at the Brewster American Legion Hall. It will feature Roger Peterson, a 1978 alumnus of Brewster High School, now living in San Diego, Calif., area. A former club manager and aspiring comedian himself, Peterson is bringing in a national touring comic, Isaac Milton Witty, and will serve as emcee for the evening.

“I will keep the show moving,” said Peterson, who began performing at open mic events in the Twin Cities and continues to dabble in comedy as a hobby. “This gives me an opportunity to keep in touch with comedy and bring comedy to a town like Brewster that never really has that opportunity to be exposed to something like that.”

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For Peterson, who is also a Sons of the American Legion member, it’s also a way to give back to his hometown and the veterans.

“It’s all about raising funds in a fun way to help build that memorial there,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

The supper will be served from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Legion hall. The menu includes a smoked pork chop, cheesy hashbrown potatoes, cowboy beans, coleslaw and a dinner roll. The show is set to begin at 8 p.m. People can choose to just do the meal, just do the show, or both, with tickets priced accordingly, noted Behrends.

People can get advanced reservations -- with a slightly reduced price -- by contacting Behrends: email Thomas.Behrends@gmail.com , and leave your name and the number of people in your party; or phone 360-3057.

A raffle is also in the works, with prizes to include cash and a Henry Golden boy military tribute rifle; the drawing will take place at the end of Brewster Fun Days, July 15-17.

For more information about the veterans memorial, a Facebook page has been set up -- Brewster Veterans Memorial; brochures are available at Brewster City Hall; or contact Behrends directly.

Brewster Veterans Memorial
Another aspect of the Brewster Veterans Memorial shows the "boot stand" with a kneeling soldier at the centerpiece of the monument.

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