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Fallen soldier’s mom: We will rebuild memorial lost to flood

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Posted at 12:36 PM, May 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 12:36:39-04

LANSING, Mich. — The mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq is pledging to rebuild a war memorial that was destroyed by a dam failure in central Michigan.

“I sat there and cried,” Kim Burgess said after visiting the scene in Sanford last week. “I just felt like I had let our veterans down. I know it wasn’t my fault. I just feel like I worked so hard to give them something, and it was just destroyed.”

The Sanford Flagpole Monument was washed away by the Tittabawassee River when the Sanford dam failed during steady rain last week.

The memorial was built with a lot of hands. More than 10 businesses donated money or supplies, and the Sanford American Legion Riders held fundraisers over three years, the Detroit Free Press reported. About $70,000 was raised to build it.

Sanford’s Memorial Day parade started and ended at the monument last year. There were seven aluminum flag poles that honored every branch of the military. The poles were designed to hold their ground in strong winds but not a rare flood.

Burgess’ son, Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan Burgess, was killed in Iraq in 2006. She is promising to rebuild the memorial and add a flag pole to honor first responders who saved people during the flood.

A mud-stained American flag was recovered when the water receded. Burgess wants to permanently display it to remember the flood.

“If it takes us 10 years, we’re gonna do this for our veterans,” Burgess said. “We want these veterans to know that we still love them. We still care for them.”

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