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Workforce monument to be unveiled at Freedom Hill

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Sterling Heights — Tom Celani came from a family of hard-working people.

His grandfather moved to the United States from Italy in the 1920s and took a job at Ford Motor Co., where he joined the United Auto Workers. Celani’s father owned a beer company — which Celani would later work for — and drove a beer truck.

Family influences and his own experiences helped Celani develop an appreciation for Michigan’s workforce, he said.

So on Saturday, Celani will unveil a 25-foot stone wall at Freedom Hill Amphitheatre that pays tribute to the working class and labor force.

“I grew up in Michigan and everything revolves around the auto industry,” said Celani, who owns Freedom Hill. “And we have so many workers, retired and active.”

The monument, named “Tribute to the American Workforce,” was sponsored by several companies and unions across the region, including DTE Energy, Operating Engineers Michigan 324, Lear Corporation, Michigan Lottery, SVS Vision, UAW Ford and Lutz Roofing.

Construction was led by the Sterling Heights-based Roncelli Inc.

A groundbreaking for the project was held one year ago.

Dennis Bishop, vice president of business development for Roncelli Inc., said the company uses organized labor and unions were eager to support the cause.

“It’s been kind of a great opportunity for companies to pitch in and do something they are going to be proud of,” Bishop said. “This is a tribute to the American workers for all that they have done to make our lives better.”

Sponsors have their names engraved in black granite sections of the monument around a screen that will show commercials about unions, Celani said.

“It might motivate someone to make the phone call and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to be trained in that area,’” Celani said. “Every aspect of hard-working people are going to be on this wall.”

The wall will be surrounded by a patio setting with tables and chairs.

Freedom Hill Amphitheatre seats about 7,200. It also has a banquet center that’s open year-round.

The “Tribute to the American Workforce” monument is within the main concourse of the amphitheater. An invitation-only ribbon cutting ceremony is set for 5 p.m. Saturday before the Four Tops and Beach Boys concert that evening.