I just attended the ceremony.Tears fell watching the 105 year old vet ring the bell.Then tears fell again after I read the names of two high school classmates who didn't make it back from Viet-Nam on the memorial plaque.
A very moving day.Thank you,City of North Miami for this wonderful tribute.
The clock tower reads "Take time to remember".
Least we forget.


Posted on Sun, Nov. 09, 2008
North Miami citizens help create bell for Veterans tribute tower
Whenever the bell tolls from North Miami's new Veterans Tribute Tower, more than 50 children and adults will be able to say they helped make it.

On Saturday, those people -- including 105-year-old Dr. Louis Stein, a World War II veteran -- lined up to get a piece of bronze to drop in a furnace, which would later be melted and poured into a mold.

By Saturday night the 500 pounds of melted bronze looked like lava, as men dressed in silver suits carefully poured the mixture into a mold. Onlookers cheered as the bright orange concoction went from the furnace to the mold.

''This was just so cool,'' said William Hopner, the Southern Area Commander for the American Legion. ``Where else can you see anything like that?''

North Miami is the only city in Florida and the second in the nation to hire the Verdin Company -- which worked with national veterans groups to come up with the creation -- to build the metal structure.

Set up in the center of North Miami's Griffing Park, at West Dixie Highway and Northeast 123rd Street, the metal tower was installed on Wednesday. On Saturday it marked the beginning of a four-day community wide celebration to finish the tower.

The mold will be broken open on Sunday and the events will culminate Tuesday with the tower dedication at the city's annual Veterans Day ceremony.

Stein, who celebrated his 105th birthday Saturday, will do the honors of ringing the 250-pound bell, which measures 24 inches in diameter.

''I couldn't be prouder,'' said Stein on Saturday, after he put his bronze ingot in the furnace -- the Verdin company brought a foundry on wheels.

Stein, who served as an oral surgeon in World War II, said he could not have thought of a better way to spend his 105th birthday then taking part in making the bronze bell. With his aide Steve Sookhoo nearby, Stein talked with attendees, eating up the spotlight.

''The only thing that makes me a celebrity is my age,'' he said. ``If not, no one would pay me any mind.''

He said he had never seen anything like the bronze creation in all his years.

''The bell itself is something else,'' said Stein, who was dressed in his American Legion uniform. ``This is a very special day for me.''

For years, North Miami officials had talked about bringing a memorial to the city to replace one that had been torn down because of construction for new schools.

Recently, the city put the project on a fast track to get it done in time for Veterans Day. ''This is definitely something that the community can be proud of,'' North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns said.

The tower cost the city $300,000, $225,000 of which was paid for by the city. The rest is being sought in donations. The city is selling bricks that can be donated in honor of someone.

Jim Verdin, the president of the Ohio-based company, said the goal of the statue was to get Americans to take time to remember the soldiers. ''We wanted to come up with something that would really catch on as a uniform tribute,'' he said.

Verdin said he was impressed by the community support.

On hand at Saturday's festivities, in addition to representatives from local veterans groups, were about 20 boys from nearby William Jennings Bryan Elementary.

Many of the boys said they'd remember the day forever.

''I'll never forget this day for as long as I live,'' said Charles Irwin, 10.

Stein said he wouldn't forget the day, either, and with the memorial in the city, no one else would.

''This is great way to say thank you,'' he said.