This Saturday, September 15, from noon until 4p, Tony's Riverside in Spooner is having a BBQ blow-out fundraiser to help fund some of the final monies needed for the installation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier replica coming to the Veteran's Memorial Waterfront Park on Highway 63 in Spooner.

This project began two years ago when a group of artists created an exact model of the Tomb for a special celebration in their town near Madison. Afterward, it was available to any qualified organization who wanted it.

Lisa Powers, the Veteran Service Officer made the request on November 5, 2016, on behalf of Washburn County, and was chosen to receive the astounding replica.

It's been a long slog, but both Lisa, a seventeen year Army Veteran, and Army retired Major Angela "Ella" Parker, who is the Assistant CVSO, have worked tirelessly to raise a phenomenal amount of funds that will cover the costs of coating the replica in fiberglass by a company in Sparta and pouring the cement base at the Park on which the reproduction will sit. Sidewalks are also being poured that connect to the already existing Veteran's Display nearby. The money will also pay for a reproduction of the soldier that guards the original tomb in Washington D.C. 24/7. The landscaping and the permanent signage and maintenance are also included in the final tally of monies raised.  

According to Darin Baier, Tony's son and manager of the bar/restaurant, they'll be smoking ribs on site that will be served with chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, a dinner roll, and baked beans for only $8.00 for the fund-raiser.

A tent in the parking lot will be set up for dining, and there will be a Chinese Auction and a raffle for three guns, a gas grill and a cash prize of $200. Tickets available from Tony's, Tracks, the VA office, and the Springbrook VFW. Tickets cost $10 each or 3 for $20. There will also be a special raffle that afternoon for a WW1 30.6 rifle, a refrigerator, and assorted other items with tickets available on site only, 3 for $20.  

Both Lisa and Ella will be at the fund-raiser collecting last-minute donations for the replica. Even though there have been some significant donations made by both private and corporate sources, according to Ella, "Every dollar counts and is accounted for."

Another perk of making a donation of any size will be a personal invitation for the grand unveiling early next year. Any contribution over $100 will also be included in a permanent plaque at the site.

The original tomb at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia was created to honor an unknown soldier from WWI 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 at Meuse Argonne American Cemetery in France.

Eventually, a representative of the Navy chose the soldier from WW2 for a site next to the original tomb, and then it was once again a representative of the Army that picked the soldier from Korea to be buried.

Thanks to advances in mitochondrial DNA testing, scientists were eventually able to identify the remains of the Vietnam War, and those remains were exhumed and tested in 1998 and found to be an Air Force First Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie who had been shot down near An Loc, Vietnam in 1971. He was moved to a cemetery in St. Louis.

Instead of adding another unknown soldier to the Vietnam War crypt, the crypt cover has been replaced with one bearing the inscription, "Honoring and Keeping Faith with America's Missing Servicemen."

The Tomb has been guarded 24/7 since 1937 by the Old Guard of the Army

The original tomb at the Arlington National Cemetery stands atop a hill overlooking Washington D.C., constructed on March 4, 1921, and now Washburn County will have a magnificent replica of its own.

Come to the party, and celebrate the projects' financial competition and our sacred heritage as Americans, or as is inscribed on the original tomb, “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier know but to God.

About the Author

Diane Dryden

Diane is a features writer for She started her fifteen-year career as a features writer for the Washburn County Register and has written for assorted newspapers and national magazines. She has also just released the third novel in her Chicago series of books – Scott Free in Chinatown. You can visit Diane's website at or her facebook page at

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