By Loretta McCarthy
Have you seen the life-size soldier, military dog and eagle that are “standing guard” at the Richland County Military Honor Roll? Have you had a chance to view the beautiful laser and etched pictures on each of the memorials that include different colors and designs for each era? Did you try to find a veteran’s name among the over 8,300 listed? You will be able to do all of this at the final dedication of the Richland County Military Honor Roll on Sunday, June 28, at 1 p.m.
The last two military walls to be dedicated will honor the men and women who served in the National Guard/Reserves and the Global War on Terrorism.
The goal of the Richland County Military Honor Roll was to honor our veterans. This dedication and memorial provides a fitting way to acknowledge the sacrifices of our military men and women.
Another goal of the memorial was to make the site an educational place for students as well as adults to learn the history of their county and country. Visitors can now navigate through the site easily, since the floor was installed last fall.
The honored speaker on June 28th will be Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs John A. Scocos. Besides being the chief advocate for 400,000 Wisconsin Veterans, Secretary Scocos served over 31 years of military service and retired as Colonel. His active duty was from 1981 to 1990. Then he joined the United States Army Reserve and was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and 2008.
Richland County has a history of remembering its veterans. At one time, there was a memorial to our Civil War Veterans located in a little park next to the Auditorium. The cannons there were eventually dismantled and the metal used for the next war effort. To replace it, a small memorial was erected on the courthouse lawn by the Richland County Women’s Federation Clubs. In recent years, that memorial was repaired and rededicated. Also, an area was set aside at the cemetery for a cannon. After WW II, a wooden bulletin board located on the courthouse lawn listed the names of the soldiers who served in that conflict. The American Legion Post 13 has an awesome flag park, along with the Purple Heart Memorial and other military remembrances. Beautiful veterans’ memorials are also located at Viola, Lone Rock and Cazenovia.
On March 14, 2003, a committee of 19 people met to explore the idea of a military honor roll that would include names of all Richland County Veterans. After a few years of searching for a site, the City of Richland Center donated the land in December 2006 near the city office buildings on the Highway 14 bypass. On May 13, 2009, a ceremony was held for the groundbreaking, which was well attended by military groups and citizens of the county. Many area contractors provided materials, labor and equipment to the project. Site preparation was completed in September 2009, allowing the first dedication of flags, benches and the site to be held in June 2010. By June 2011, the following monuments were dedicated: War of 1812, Mexican War, Spanish American War, Lebanon/Grenada/Panama, Gulf. The WW I and WW II walls as well as the Battlefield Cross were dedicated in June 2012. The Korean War memorial was dedicated the same year in October. The Civil War and Vietnam walls were dedicated in June 2013. The final dedication will complete the Military Honor Roll by unveiling the Global War on Terrorism as well as the National Guard/Reserve walls.
The committee invites all veterans as well as the public to a day of remembrance and a time to honor our veterans on Sunday, June 28, at 1 p.m., “rain or shine.”
This beautiful memorial that is a source of our county history for generations to come was made possible by the donations of so many citizens who kept the dream alive to honor those who have served, those who are serving and those who will serve.