Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a continuing series from DrydenWire.com about the tomb.
SPOONER, WI -- It's been a long wait, but the replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the one that stands in the Arlington National Cemetary has finally arrived in Spooner. It was placed on a pre-poured pad at the Veteran's Memorial Waterfront Park on Friday, September 13, joining the original Veteran's Memorial.
This impressive road-side memorial with its flags, inscribed pavers, benches, bell tower, and a lifesize representative of each branch of service was created and is maintained by the Spooner Veteran's Memorial Committee, of which Jim Diesetl, U.S. Naval Reserves, serves as chairman.
This exact tomb replica was originally created for a special ceremony that was held outside of Madison, Wisconsin and when the festival was over, the replica needed a new, and permanent home.
The initial cost was nothing. Enter Lisa Powers, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant (retired), and head of the Veteran's Service Office. She gave a call out throughout Washburn County looking for a place to house the replica.
Spooner answered the call saying there was room at the Veteran's Memorial Waterfront Park and that the City of Spooner would tale the responsibility for the electric service, which would create the lights for nighttime, and the landscaping, and would add it to their maintenance list seeing the city owns the property.
The Spooner Veteran's Memorial Committee, and the two Veteran's Service officers, Lisa Powers, and Ella Parker, Major, U.S. Army, retired, started the fund-raising.
The tomb project, like so many other projects, ran into one roadblock after another, eating up time and dollars alike. The original figure of $10,000 dollars, soon grew to need $40,000, and then finally the total needed, and raised, was a whopping $85,000. This not only pays all the bills but leaves a bit on the books that will be used for maintenance and upkeep.
“We are incredibly thankful for all of the generous donations we have received from the wonderful businesses and public,” said Lisa. “I would also like to thank the Spooner Veterans Memorial committee and the City of Spooner for taking on this astounding project, and the excellent support we have gotten from the community. We are also grateful for the hard work our local veterans and the veterans organizations have done helping get the word out and raising money to make this project a reality.”
Due to the fact this replica started as a temporary display, much had to be done to the tomb to get it ready to be a permanent fixture. The final procedure involved destroying the original replica after having a fiberglass cast of the original to help it withstand the often brutal Northern Wisconsin weather.
There are still some important pieces to be added to the tomb area. One will be a reproduction of the Army Old Guard, replicating the human guards who do a walking- watch over the original tomb 24/7 since 1937 at the Arlington National Cemetery.
The four surrounding pads will hold granite benches that can be engraved in honor of someone, and the three spots to the east of the tomb are for the three crypts honoring missing soldiers from WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. The monument itself paying homage to WW1.
The crypts are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks and two; possibly three benches are still available for a donation of $1,500 each for the inscription.
There will be an official dedication in spring, 2020, after the lighting, landscaping, signage, and replica figure is in place. The public is invited to visit the tomb anytime now that it has found a permanent home at the Veteran's Memorial Park on Highway 63 in Spooner across from Tony's Riverside restaurant.
On a side note about the original tomb in Virginia: It was created to honor an unknown soldier from WW1 who was buried in France. The soldier was chosen when the remains of four U.S. unknown soldiers, in their caskets from France were laid side by side, and U.S. Army, Sgt. Edward F. Younger, who was wounded in combat, and received the Distinguished Service Medal, was chosen to select a soldier for burial in the new tomb. He chose the third casket from the left by placing a spray of white roses on it.
The casket was then transported to the U.S., while the other three were reburied in the Meuse, Argonne American Cemetery in France. Eventually, a representative of the Navy chose an unknown soldier from WW2 to be buried in the crypt adjoining the original tomb, and eventually an unknown soldier from both Korea and Vietnam were placed in the other two crypts.
The original Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was created on March 4, 1921, and it proudly stands atop a hill overlooking Washington D.C. Now, thanks to the untiring efforts of so many, Washburn County has its own magnificent replica.
"I would like to remind the public that, much like the Vietnam memorial, and the Liberty Bell replicas that are displayed throughout our great country," Lisa adds. " Our vision was to bring an important piece of history into our corner of the world."
Tax-deductible donations are still accepted for the upkeep on the tomb, and the remaining benches can be obtained also through donation. For more information, stop in at their office located at 1600 County Highway H in Spooner across from the hospital, or mail your contributions to the Veteran's Service Office, with the same address, in Spooner, Wisconsin 54801. Or you can call Monday through Thursday, from 7:30a until 5:00p, 715-635-4470 for further information.