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Minnesota couple build statues for underwater memorial honoring veterans

NEAR KELLOGG, Minn. (KTTC) – If you want to visit a new memorial honoring our nation’s veterans, you’ll have to grab scuba gear.

Dave and Shelly Speedling, who own SVJ Creative Designs near Kellogg, are in the national spotlight for building three statues for the underwater memorial: the Soldier Kneeling with Battlefield Cross, the Southeast Asia War Statue, and the Female Iraq Freedom Fighter.

The Circle of Heroes Veterans Memorial is located 10 miles off the coast of Clearwater, Florida and 40 feet below the Gulf of Mexico. It opened Monday and features 12 statues, all of which represent the five branches of the U.S. military.

“It’s just mind boggling, it truly is,” said Shelly Speedling. “This is our first scuba diving destination. People from all around the world will be coming to it.”

The underwater memorial is the first of its kind. Besides honoring those who’ve served, it’s also meant to be used as a therapeutic dive site for disabled veterans suffering from PTSD, depression, and trauma.

“We’ve seen film of where divers went down and knelt by our kneeling soldier. They’ve sent emails back to us thanking us and what it really meant to them,” added Dave Speedling.

The couple is already working on 12 more statues for the memorial. They’ll be installed in 2020 to complete the 100-foot Circle of Heroes.

Shannon Rousseau

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