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Veterans choose unique memorial
Vets Memorial
From left, VFW Post 6455 member Barnard Heilemn, commander Norm Hanfeld and quartermaster Dave Splinter stand behind the new veterans monument at the Dickeyville Community Park. - photo by Dena Harris

A unique lighted display pays tribute to the five military branches in Dickeyville.

The monument isn’t the traditional stone slab with names on it. Instead, a pentagon etched with the symbols of each military branch is lit by colored LED lights. The lit display is housed in a pentagon gazebo at the Dickeyville Community Park.

The Riemenapp-Averkamp-Stelpflug VFW Post 6455 in Dickeyville and Kieler sponsored the veterans memorial that honors all of those who served the land of the free, whether it was during wartime or peacetime.

“As veterans we take pride in our military service, the machinery and whatever represents the United States,” Dave Splinter, quartermaster of the Dickeyville-Kieler VFW, said.

Two military displays were previously exhibited at the park. The VFW had an old military tank on display at the park, but returned it to the U.S. Army because it was in bad repair. Also, the Boy Scouts created an engraved wooden display with the names of local veterans who served, but the weather deteriorated that and it was taken down.

“We all realized we had to do something,” commander Norm Hanfeld said. “The old one was beyond repair.”

The idea for the current monument started three years ago.

“We [the VFW] decided we needed to do something modern and different,” Splinter said. “Everybody puts granite slabs up and engraves names on it, which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we don’t have that kind of money available.”

Delete - Merge UpThe group decided to do something generic that would last.

“I was sitting at my desk and I’ve got a little piece of acrylic from Washington D.C. that was six-sided and I thought why not make a bigger one of them five-sided?” Splinter said. “It’s generic. Each side has a different branch of service. The top has an etching of the U.S. flag waving in the wind along with the inscription, 'A salute to all those who serve.'”

Splinter said it would include past, present, future, male, female, wartime and peacetime veterans—everybody.

The monument, constructed with ¾ inch acrylic, was custom built in New Berlin. The display will be lit 24-7 with seven colors that rotate. The LED lighting is battery powered. Splinter said eventually a solar panel will be installed on the roof to power the battery. The gazebo has a security camera installed.

“We consider it to be one of a kind in the world because everybody else has stone slabs,” Splinter said. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”

The project was estimated to cost $35,000. The lit monument cost $4,600 alone. Monetary and material donations, as well as labor donations, have helped reduce the VFW’s financial impact. The Dubuque Racing Association assisted by granting $5,000. The Dickeyville Lions Club also made a $5,000 donation at a dedication ceremony on July 19. It was the largest donation the Dickeyville Lions Club has ever made to a single entity at one time.

Construction on the monument started in May. The monument is protected by a pentagon-shaped gazebo. Construction on the gazebo is nearly complete. The group wants to add benches and a railing as well as five more trees surrounding the structure. A cupola will also be added to the top and air vents will be installed.

“We can’t believe the volunteerism around here, in both labor and donations,” Splinter said.

He said most of the concrete and all of the brickwork, along with labor on the gazebo was donated.

“We’ve had unbelievable help, both physical and financial,” VFW member Barnard Heilemn said.

Village approval was needed to add the memorial to the park. Splinter said when it is completed it will be donated to the village to be covered under the village’s insurance.

“We built it so it’s going to be here 100 years from now,” Splinter said. “It’s basically maintenance free.”

Splinter said local veterans helped with almost every phase of the construction, including pouring cement and attaching shingles. The Dickeyville-Kieler VFW has 32 members.

“There’s still work to do,” Splinter said. “Donations are still accepted. People donating so far have been super.”

Donations can be sent to Dickeyville VFW Post 6455, P.O. Box 8, Dickeyville, WI 53808 or contact Dave Splinter at (608) 568-7222 or Norm Hanfeld at (608) 568-3397 for more information.

“The people and businesses in this area have been super,” Splinter said.