PUBLISHED: Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Spot in park for war dead endorsed


The Mt. Pleasant Parks and Recreation Commission Tuesday endorsed the concept of an Island Park memorial for Isabella County service members who serve and who die in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One Isabella County resident – Marine Lance Cpl. Justin M. Ellsworth, a 2003 graduate of Mt. Pleasant High School – died in Iraq Nov. 13, 2004.

"It's not just for Justin,“ said memorial backer Linda Fabian of Rosebush. "It's for everyone in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.“

Ellsworth's family has proposed that Mt. Pleasant join other communities that have lost service members in the Middle East conflicts in erecting a uniform design of memorial.

"You'll know that hometown has lost a son or a daughter to the war on terrorism,“ said John "Skip“ Bushart of Waterford. He is a retired U.S. Air Force chief master sergeant who now is part of a group called "Lest We Forget.“

Bushart's son, Army Pfc. Damian Bushart, also was killed in Iraq. A memorial to him in his hometown is to be dedicated Friday.

The design is simple: Placed in the middle of an 8-foot concrete circle would be a 3-foot pylon, bearing the names of the service members who made the ultimate sacrifice. Behind it would be an inverted rifle with a Kevlar helmet on the butt – a "field cross.“

A 20-foot flagpole would add point to the memorial. The concept is that this memorial would be placed near the Michigan Vietnam Memorial, erected by Vietnam veterans at Island Park.

"Justin was the first son of Mt. Pleasant who sacrificed his life in Iraqi Freedom,“ said Vietnam veteran Andre D'Artagnian of Mt. Pleasant, who said the memorial should be built. "It's a living memorial.“

Ellsworth's mother, Tracy Loveberry-Ross, said she felt strongly about the memorial and was willing to bear much of the cost. Fabian said donors already have begun offering services and materials to make it a reality.

Loveberry-Ross flew from her home in Colorado to attend Tuesday's parks board meeting.

"I wanted to make sure we got it done,“ she said.

"Everyone in this community needs to remember this war is going on,“ said Parks Director Gregory Baderschneider. He said if Mt. Pleasant and Isabella County lose more service members in the conflicts, their names would be added to the memorial.

"God forbid we lose a number of individuals in this county,“ he said.

The final decision on whether to build the memorial will be up to the Mt. Pleasant City Commission, and could come sometime in June.

Ellsworth grew up in Mt. Pleasant, but moved to Colorado for a while to be with his mother. Later, he returned to mid-Michigan to graduate with his friends from Mt. Pleasant High School.

Among those friends was Eric Fabian, son of Linda Fabian. Marine Lance Cpl. Eric Fabian returned in March from a tour of duty in a town about 45 miles south of Baghdad.

Last modified date and time: 09/04/2005 16:43