Lisa Powers, the Washburn Country Veteran’s Service Officer, is the person who is spear heading the massive project of getting the exact size replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to Washburn County yet this year. In fact, she would like to see it installed and ready for the Fourth of July celebration.
It was with information from Jeff Unger, Vice President and co-founder of the Deforest Veterans Memorial Foundation that Lisa learned about the availability of the monument built by the folks who attend the Calvary Gospel Church in Madison.
Not too many years ago the church built a three quarters scale copy of the front of the tomb for its Memorial Day service and had a Blackhawk helicopter land on the church grounds on Madison’s east side as part of the event.
Unger got the idea that a full sized replica of the entire tomb, when constructed, could sit in their own DeForest Memorial Park whose name had already been changed from Market Square Park to the Veteran’s Memorial Park in 2001, thanks to the initiative of the American Legion Olson-Grinde Memorial Post 348.
Unger called Brenda Rehbein, a church member who worked on the original replica, she said yes, and added “it was their opportunity to give back to the families who lost people in the wars. There’s a lot of hurt that goes with that, and it’s nice that we can recognize that.”
Brenda talked to the congregants of the church and they, plus her husband, a heating and cooling specialist, her brother, an experienced plasterer, and others took on the task. “It’s not like there’s a kit you can buy at the hobby store, or even blueprints for that matter.”
Several companies with ties to the congregation donated money, materials and know-how and by working with photos of the actual monument along with 3-D modeling and computer aided design software; they created blueprints for their project.
Construction began using angle iron, strips of steel, two inch foam board, stucco and a layer of plaster and a coat of paint. All in all it was a five week project and the results were spectacular, including the monument’s wreaths and inscriptions.
This past Memorial Day, a National Guardsman performed the ritual sentinel march at the replica monument exactly like it is executed at the real tomb in Arlington National Cemetery and Gov. Scott Walker placed a ceremonial wreath at the 1,200 pound replica.
Now the search begins for an appropriate place for the replica. It needs to be a place of contemplation, education, reflection and remembrance and the search for an appropriate spot to place it is underway.
The four locations that are vying to be chosen are:
- The State Veteran’s Cemetery on highway 53
- The wayside across the street from the cemetery
- The Spooner Veterans Memorial Park
- Shell Lake, location to be determined.
Wherever the memorial finds an appropriate home, funds will be needed for the transport from Madison, and in-kind donations are needed such as laborers and concrete specialists along with electricians. A slab will be required to mount it on as well as sidewalks up to and around it. Lighting will be necessary as well as landscaping and benches.
It’s a huge project, but quite a feather in the cap of the winning location.
For more information, contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-635-4470
Donations can be made by sending your check to WC Veterans Service Office, 1600 Highway H, Spooner, Wisconsin 54801 (write Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the memo line). An account has already been activated.