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17-year-old Eagle Scout built a veterans’ memorial for his hometown

By: Tina Wu

Dominique Claseman fundraised exactly $77,777 to build a veterans’ memorial in Olivia, Minnesota, his hometown. In fact, Dominique fundraised far more than he expected to.

“I was originally picturing just a walkway with 21 boot steps and pavers on the side, along with main stone and a couple of flags,” he said. But with $62,777 extra, the young boy added four marble benches and two sculptures of a turtle with a military helmet replacing its shell.

How did he get to his goal?

Claseman’s whole family served in the military, from his father to his great-grandfather. “It’s never ending,” he says.

The 17-year -old’s father, Mark Jurgensen, told him that “the Scoutmaster’s son…needs to go big or go home” for his Eagle Scout project. Claseman did not disappoint, and put in two years of planning and fundraising to build the memorial. He was not allowed to promote the project online. This pushed him to secure funding “either [through] word-of-mouth or going door to door,” he said. He posted flyers everywhere, and went to public events to speak about his project.

The result

When the memorial was shown to the public on Memorial Day, his father chuckled, saying “by the time everything was said and done, he definitely went big.” The memorial was decorated with flowers, and 140 pavers on two big tablets placed on either side of the walk way.

The walkway features the indents created by 21 boot steps, as planned, and were made with the combat boots from when Claseman’s father served.

In front of the walk way is a stone engraved with the American flag, six seals, and a box of text in the middle. The text reads, “Dedicated to the courageous brothers and sisters from our community who served our country in times of peace and war. We thank them for their service. Especially those who gave their lives in that service. May God grant their lives in that service.”

Behind the stone are three flags: the American flag, the Minnesota flag, and the POW/MIA flag.

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