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A devastating loss: Sanford, MI veterans monument destroyed by flood

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    SANDFORD, MI (WJRT ) — Flooding devastation is widespread in the village of Sanford, but one area in particular stood out on Memorial Day.

Floodwaters wiped away a monument built in honor of Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan Burgess, who died in the line of duty while serving in Iraq in 2006.

“We knew this was bigger than just our son. This was veterans, this was veterans in our community,” said his mom, Kim Burgess.

The project was labor of love to honor those who have served our country. Now it’s crumbled and broken.

“The road was gone, all the flag poles were gone. We have a field cross there, it was tipped over in the mud,” Burgess said.

She knew the damage was bad, but she was unprepared for the devastation that took place where the monument once stood for the past two years.

“When I saw that field cross on the ground in the mud, I just broke down and wept. I said we can’t have that. That is like a grave marker for them. That is a symbol for those who fell in Iraq,” Burgess said.

Ryan Burgess was 21 and serving his second tour in Iraq when he died.

“We had talked about building a monument for quite sometime, but we just couldn’t decide what we wanted to do and where we wanted to do it. We kind of did some research and we found our hometown is the town Sanford is the town my son grew up in,” Burgess said.

Now, years of work are gone. Although, Burgess said they were able to salvage a few things.

“We have the American flag. It was in the mud, so we pulled that up and we will have that framed and placed on the new monument,” she said

Burgess says people are already stepping up to help rebuild it. A GoFundMe page has been established to accept contributions.

“The Ryan Burgess Memorial Foundation spearheaded this, but it was our community that came together. So it means a lot to me that people think about our veterans, that they are not forgotten,” Burgess said.

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