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 The Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial is planned for the northeast corner of Woodward Avenue and 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak.

The Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial is planned for the northeast corner of Woodward Avenue and 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak.

Rendering provided by Debi Hollis


State tax filers can now support WWII vets memorial

By: Brian Louwers | C&G Newspapers | Published July 9, 2018

 Russell Levine, vice president of the Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial board of directors; state Sens. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, and Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy; and Debi Hollis, the board’s president, met in Lansing earlier this year.

Russell Levine, vice president of the Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial board of directors; state Sens. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, and Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy; and Debi Hollis, the board’s president, met in Lansing earlier this year.

Photo provided by Debi Hollis

LANSING — By simply checking a box and attaching a form, state taxpayers can now support an ongoing effort to build a permanent memorial honoring Michigan’s more than 620,000 people who served at home and abroad during World War II. 

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed off on a pair of companion bills sponsored by state sens. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, and Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, to establish a Michigan World War II Legacy Memorial Fund in the state treasury and let taxpayers make a voluntary contribution to the fund on a separate form that can be filed alongside their state tax return.

“What our goal is now is to let all the accountants and tax preparers across the state know there’s been an update to that form with our name on it,” said Debi Hollis, president of the Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial board of directors. “For us, this is really an incredible opportunity for statewide awareness of the project. We’ve gone around the state on other occasions doing presentations and speaking about the project. Obviously, that’s a lot of territory to cover.

“Having two state senators and having all these yes votes from the Senate and the House is going to help us a great deal with statewide support, which is really critical because it’s a statewide memorial,” Hollis said. 

Passage of Bieda’s bill, Senate Bill 817, was required before the Michigan Treasury could collect and distribute the funds. Knollenberg’s legislation, Senate Bill 816, amended the Michigan Income Tax Act to include the Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial on a list of existing state-approved charities. 

In addition to the memorial, the list includes the American Red Cross Michigan Fund, the Animal Welfare Fund, the Military Family Relief Fund and the United Way Fund. 

“It was easy to sell. It’s hard to not support something like this,” Bieda said July 2. “I think every little bit helps. It will help raise money because it will be on the check-off sheet, but it will help raise awareness of this project. I think that adds a lot to it. 

“Part of the effectiveness in any kind of fundraising is making that connection for people to know about something and then decide to donate to it,” Bieda said. 

The Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial is planned for the northeast corner of Woodward Avenue and 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak. Organizers said the idea for the memorial was conceived in 2011 by volunteers working with Honor Flight Michigan. 

With a proposed cost of $3 million, the memorial will include statues dedicated to telling the story of the state’s contributions during World War II, both abroad and on the homefront. A “Walk of Honor” paved with inscribed bricks in memory of those who served, an amphitheater, and online companion materials for students and group visits are also planned. 

“The WWII Legacy Memorial will honor the 620,000 Michigan residents who served in the armed forces and at home during World War II, and provide a lasting tribute to the 15,458 service members who lost their lives,” Knollenberg said in a press release announcing the bill’s signing. “The voluntary donations do not impact the state budget, yet they can help the World War II Legacy Fund enable those who defended our freedom to receive an appropriate monument in their honor here in our community.”

Speaking on behalf of the memorial’s board of directors, Hollis said they’re grateful for the support they received from Bieda, Knollenberg and their fellow state legislators. 

“It’s greatly appreciated, and we can’t thank them enough,” Hollis said. 

The Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial will host its annual Victory Gala fundraising auction Oct. 25 at the General Motors Heritage Center, 6400 Center Drive in Sterling Heights. 

For more information about the gala, bricks along the “Walk of Honor” and other ways to contribute, call (888) 229-6126 or visit www.michiganww2memorial.org.

Find the group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheMichiganWWIILegacyMemorial.