The Fourth of July 2012 in Platteville was the best! Along with all of the traditional (and new additions!) to our Fourth of July celebration, the dedication of the Veterans Honor Roll was a standout.
In 2009 when we hosted the Vietnam Moving Wall, it became apparent that our community needed an all-encompassing veteran’s memorial. A group of volunteers gathered to begin talking about such a project and the Veterans Honor Roll Committee began. Three years later, the dream of such a memorial became a reality with the dedication this past week on the morning of the Fourth of July.
The idea of the Veterans Honor Roll memorial came about after hearing the veterans on the committee express that they would like to see the project as an “honor roll” of all veterans, living and deceased. They wanted every possible Platteville service member to be listed on the memorial — at no cost to the veteran. A design committee was organized and they came up with a very grand proposal.
One of the truly exceptional things that happened during this project was the strong support from our local contractors and businesses who wanted to be part of it all. While the value of this project is nearly $300,000, due to the generosity of these contractors and businesses, the amount needed to fundraise was greatly decreased.
Our sculptor, David Oswald, is world renowned and we are so lucky to have had his talents. We cannot thank these businesses enough for what they did — Bard Ready Mix, Brannon Monuments, the city Public Works and Fire departments, Delta 3 Engineering, Digman Construction, Helker Jewelry, Lawinger Bros. Construction, Lynch Excavating, Mathy Quarries, Michael’s Masonry, Platte Construction and Rural Excavating. They all gave discounts, worked long hours and thanked us for allowing them to be part of the Veterans Honor Roll. Some never submitted a bill at all for their services. Unbelievable. And honorable.
The committee was phenomenal and dedicated. When the actual construction began, many of the committee members were there to assist. Each of the committee members spent numerous hours at meetings, moving statues and setting up displays. Thank you to each of you for what you did — Mike Myers, Tom Taber, John Dutcher, Tom Nelson, Dick Bonin, Paul Budden, John Carpenter, George Curry, Jean Anne Eustice, Eric Fatzinger, Lyle Habel, Dorothy Genthe, Gen Hale, Bob Hale, Eddie Hirchert, John Huehne, Bob Johns, Greg Johll, Pat Kemnitzer, Joe Kopp, Dave Langkamp, Gabe Loeffelholz, Frank Lofy, Tim Murphy, Greg Tanner and Gary Tuescher.
The efforts of Mike Myers went above and beyond for taking on the responsibility of chairing the committee. It was a very stressful job but Mike handled it like he handles everything else, with a quiet pride and a much focused mission. We are forever indebted to him. Pat Kemnitzer was a miracle worker. When things were gearing up in the late winter with the upcoming construction, it became obvious that an on-site construction manager was needed. Pat agreed to help in that capacity. They ought to sell the glue that he used to keep things together and humming during construction. What an awesome job, Pat!
Our project will never be over. One of the hardest things about the project was trying to find all the names of our community veterans. We tried our best to gather all of them but we know some would be missed. One of the pedestals has a plaque that will host names temporarily and when enough names are submitted a section will be engraved in granite and dedicated on Veterans Day. If you have a name to submit, a short form is available at the Chamber office.
Part of our plan is to “give a face” to the veterans whose names on engraved on the memorial. To this end, we are making scrapbook pages available ($5 each) for anyone wishing to complete one for a friend or family member. These scrapbooks will be available to public viewing and add an extra dimension to our project.
Fundraising continues and thanks to our wonderful community, we are nearly at our goal. We have a small loan that is outstanding and we have every hope that this will be paid very soon. If you have not had an opportunity to make a donation, there is still time! Checks can be made to Building Platteville, Inc., P. O. Box 119, Platteville, WI 53818.
Building Platteville is a non-profit 501(C)3 organization. One can still purchase a brick for the veterans’ walkway. There are commemorative items from the Vietnam Moving Wall event that we have for sale for a $5 donation.
What a worthy tribute to our community veterans! And what a beautiful and appropriate addition to our downtown City Park.
I was involved with this project from day one and proudly admit that it has been one of the most awesome projects I have ever been connected to. Thank you to everyone in our Platteville community who supported, and continue to support, this wonderful project.