Veterans Memorial Park
Main St at Mechanic St
Fremont, Newaygo County, Michigan
This memorial is simply done but, due to placement and usage of memorial bricks, does a credible job of giving homage to our friends and relatives.
Somehow, the placement of a brick with a simple dedication to "Dad" or "Uncle Dan" alongside the name of a Brigadier General impresses upon us that all soldiers, sailors, and airmen, were once youngsters of our community. John Brooks was an Army brat and upon graduation from West Point in 1941 he went to flight school. His first combat mission was in a B-24 to the oil fields of Ploesti, Romania, where he saw his flying comrades decimated. Not long after that series of raids Brooks was assigned to a pursuit squadron flying the infamous P-51 Mustang fighter. He did a better than credible job, earning the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, three Distingished Flying Crosses, and several other awards.
"Combat Boots" - The universal piece of gear for all soldiers. Boots they wore as they walked to war and, for most, stuffed in a closet afterward ... On the day I visited there was a pair of boots sitting at the middle of the flag plaza. Somewhere in this cemetery a soldier lies, waiting for his next call to glory, and his boots are ready for him.
The large cemetery dates well back to the 1830's, but has no other war memorials evident, other than a private memorial for Mr. S. H. Harden of the 6th Independent Co of Ohio Volunteers. Private Harden drove an ambulance wagon throughout most of the war, and no doubt knew the horrors found on the battlefields. He was himself hospitalized twice for illness, one of which left him deaf in one ear.
He returned home to Ohio after the war and then came to Newaygo to start his family. The ensuing years were probably difficult for the veteran, he was a painter and carpenter working in a shop and then for himself. He was active in the Samuel Judd Post GAR, whose old comrades carried him to his grave in August of 1901. He spent the last several of his years drawing a soldiers pension of just $12 monthly, and claimed it was his only source of income. Upon his death his widow received just $8 monthly till her death.