On behalf of my fellow veterans, especially those from Durand’s VFW Reed-Raymond Post 2272, please accept our sincere appreciation to the people of this good community, and many who returned to their hometown of Durand, to make our Veterans of Rock N’ Roll Benefit Concert a phenomenal success. In process of expressing our appreciation, I thought you should know how this event occurred. And yes, this is the abbreviated version.
For more than a decade we have been working to create the Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Durand to honor area veterans who served our country, especially those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. I want to emphasize that the city of Durand and the entire staff has been supportive at each step of this project. The project was erected on the site of the old Bay gas station. To get this project launched, we financed the construction and needed to pay off the loan.
About the same time, my brother, Greg Martin, from Jim’s Pizza, hatched a plan to have a classic rock concert that would create a memorable community event while funding the park. Greg contacted, among others, former Durand resident and band leader Bob Sager at his home in Fort Myers, Florida. Bob had been the front man of a popular Durand area band, The Raigne, in the early 1970s, and Greg heard that Bob made occasional guest appearances with bands when not managing his wealth management firm. Without hesitation, Bob Sager agreed to help.
By phone, Greg and Bob spoke daily about logistics. While Greg and I worked with the city, my fellow veterans, business leaders, civic organizations, and countless area residents, Bob contacted old band mates. Some were local, but many were spread around the country. A concert date was set for Aug. 26 at Optimist Park. Posters were printed and distributed, and social media spread the word about the concert. The community was buzzing with excitement. While we had a plan, considerable work lay ahead.
Bob also recruited friends with ties to the area who could help manage the project. He contacted Durand native and former state legislator, Clark Harder. He also contacted Frank Klim, who he knew was spending a month in Durand visiting his mother. With Greg, they developed and launched plans for media relations, marketing, event sponsorships, community engagement, and more. They recruited Durand native Rebecca McAlpine to serve as project manager and wrangle event details. Rod Hall, Deb Love, and others were recruited to create teams to help solicit sponsors, sell tickets, recruit vendors, and more.
During this time, we learned that we had received a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for up to $13,000, on the condition the matching funds were raised by Aug. 31.
If you were one of almost 1,000 people who were fortunate to attend this historic concert, you saw a remarkable evening of entertainment, community goodwill, and a special tribute to area veterans and fallen comrades. This was the most respectful, joyous, and celebratory event to grace our fair city in a long time.
The Veterans of Rock concert was a phenomenal success and exceeded every goal by funding the project, reuniting a community, and creating an evening of fun and entertainment to be remembered for decades. This event would not have been possible without the individuals mentioned above, or those who sold or purchased tickets, solicited sponsors, donated business sponsorships or services, set up chairs and tables, worked the event, provided security, and managed traffic. The concert would not have been achievable without the talents and generosity of the musicians who spent countless hours traveling, preparing, and performing, all on their own dime. The concert would also not have been possible without the efforts of so many Durand area residents. I want to thank each and every one of you for making this event possible.
I specifically want to thank our sponsors for helping us reach our goal of funding the Veterans Memorial Park. Our “Platinum sponsors were the Sager families and Shirley; our “Silver” sponsors include Déjà vu and Rohde Bros. Excavating; and our “Bronze” sponsors included Coffield Oil; Dr. Carlson, DDS; Fifth Third Bank; Graff Chevrolet; Huntington Bank; Iron Horse Pub; and Tri-Mer Corporation.
The long list of event sponsors also includes Annie’s Painting, Baker Insurance, Blight Oil, Born’s Corn, Changes Salon Barber Shop, Chesaning Pools and Spa, the city of Durand, Deisler Electric, the DHS class of ’73, and Dr. Kingsbury.
Also, the Drew Decker Music Scholarship, Ed’s Standard BP, Harvest Mills, Jim’s Pizza and Greg Martin, Kathy’s School of Dance, the Klim family, Monroe Point, My-Can, Stine Turf, Tim Wisebroad, Wade Trim, and the VFW Reed-Raymond Post 2272.
We would also like to thank the many musicians who made the concert possible, including Rick Bowden, Rod Bradley, Warren Brady, Pat Carmody, Jim Chamberlain, Mike Jones, Debbie Love, Terry Newman, Phil Rodgers, Brandon Root, Tom Root, Travis Root, Bob Sager, Rob Sager, Jeff Semple, Alan Smith, Kathleen Vankuren, Dave Wasielewski, and Joseph Yankee.
Again, thank you for your generous support of Durand’s Veterans Memorial Park.
Commander Dennis Martin,
Durand VFW Reed-Raymond Post 2272