Mid-Michigan mom who lost son in Iraq vows to rebuild memorial destroyed in flood

Posted at 10:59 PM, May 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 22:59:42-04

A mid-Michigan mother who lost her son in Iraq in 2006 is pledging to rebuild the war memorial that was destroyed when the Sanford dam failed last week.

Kim Burgess' son, Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan Burgess, was killed by an IED while on a mission in Iraq on Dec. 21, 2006. He was just 21 years old.

"When I saw that, I just completely broke down," Kim Burgess said of the destruction of the monument.

It took years of fundraising and help from the American Legion for their vision of a Sanford flagpole monument to become a reality.

"We erected this monument in our home town that didn’t have a war monument at that time," she said. "We erected it for all of the veterans in our community not just our son."

There's a flag representing each military branch, as well as one for POWs and a battle cross with Ryan Burgess' dog tags.

When the dam burst sending violent waves of water through the city, it tore through the memorial.

"There’s only one flag pole even remaining and it’s bent over and kinked the American flag was in the mud," Kim said.

Ryan's Combat Cross was ripped form its stand and was found laying in the mud. It also wiped out the bridges and the roads to the cemetery. A volunteer with the American Legion hiked on foot to put flags at the headstones.

"I couldn’t even put flowers on my sons grave for Memorial Day between the bridges out the roads out the water and the flooding," she said.

The Burgess family is looking to the flag as a symbol of victory and hope.

"One way or another, I don’t know how long it will take us or the funds we will need, but we will rebuild for our veterans," she said.

The Combat Cross and Ryan's dog tags survived the flood and were brought back to the American Legion.

Also the Sanford American Legion is open from 9 AM till 7 PM every day their entire hall filled with clothes shoes blankets paper towel pantry items waters anything that somebody might need

They want to make sure that everybody in the community knows that they are here and open every day and available to help them out in any way

You can donate to the GoFundMe here .