Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wisconsin V

Located, also, in the sacred spot is the National Native American Vietnam Veteran's Memorial.

Left out of the memorial in D. C., Native Americans decided to build their own memorial. Interestingly, this mirrors what 'Nam vets had to do, too.

The site consists of an Native American soldier in fatigues, holding a rifle in one hand and an Eagle feather staff in the other. He, also, wears a headband; an iconic symbol to most of us.

He is standing on ten tons of red granite, symbolizing shed blood. At the base is a circle of white stones depicting a field of honor.

The names of all the Native Americans who perished as a result of the war are etched into black granite that encircles the entire site. Inscribing the Tribal affiliation of each name is a project that will be completed in the future.

The information available at the site says that the land chose the place for the memorial. I didn't quite understand this so I called and spoke to another of the great staff at this site and he explained that when some of the Native American planning team visited The Highground, the land "spoke to them" and they knew this was where they wanted their memorial.

So, today its majesty and dignity greet all who come to remember. And this is most fitting because, as a cultural group, Native Americans have a greater rate of service than anyone in America!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wisconsin IV

I promised to talk about the key-chains seen in some of these pictures. You can see them on the rifle in Fragments and in the helmet the woman is holding in the last post.

These are made by a disabled 'Nam vet who lives in Oregon. He makes them for those who were in-country. These have always been free, but, as he says, they were not cheap. They were paid for with the lives, blood and suffering in the jungles of 'Nam

Dave has made thousands of these and reports say that they have made it to all 50 states and a number of spots around the world. Their purpose is to honor those who were lost and he hopes that all who carry them will hold their heads high and know that they are not alone.

Now, here is the catch. The only way you can get one is to have served in-country and to pick one up at The High Ground. One of the first things they ask is if you are a vet and were in-country. If so, they hand you a key-chain.

I carry mine every day with great pride.

So, get out to Neillsville and see this great site, more about which I will write soon.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wisconsin III

Another feature at the Highground is the first veteran's memorial specifically honoring the women who served.

The statue, near the flags poles, was the model for a submission for the memorial on the Mall, in Washington, D. C. If it had been chosen, it would have been life sized and on the Mall. Now, she has a place of honor at the Highground.

There are other women here, too.

There is a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) The statue is by Dorothy Swain Lewis, who was a WASP. I noted in a previous post that it was many years after their noble service that these brave women were finally recognized by the Government (1977). It was just last March (2010) that they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. A long way from having to pass the hat to collect the money to send home their 38 sisters, who perished in service!

Another woman is here, too. She sits, with her child, mourning the loss of her husband, her child's father. While the particular site is not a Vietnam Tribute, the loss and message are larger than any one conflict.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wisconsin II

If you look over to the right and down from "Fragments" you will see a most unusual sight.

Often missed by visitors, The Earthen Dove Effigy Mound measures 100 feet long, with a 140 foot wingspan, and is 6 1/2 feet high at its peak. Dedicated to POW/MIA's it was constructed with earth from all of Wisconsin's 72 counties, many states, Vietnam and 18 countries.

Its origins can be traced to the Native American Mound tradition. At its dedication in 1989, John Beaudin, a native American Vietnam War vet explained;

"It is a spiritual place where you can go and let your mother, the earth, hold you. Let the children play on it. Dance on it. Use it to unload your grief and pain. Lay back in the soft folds of its wings and let Mother Earth unburden you. Then get up and leave your troubles and cares there on the mound, as you walk away renewed, refreshed, and strengthened"

In 1992 a vet came to see the park. He visited the mound, lit incense and thought about his brother who has never been found. He felt a new sense of peace. He met with some other vets and three years later the Vietnamese/American Peace park was dedicated in his country; we used to call it North Vietnam. Located 60 miles north of Hanoi this park commemorates the sacrifices of war.

You can read more about this park, here;

This URL takes you to a story about how an attempt was made to build the Peace park near Hanoi, but that it ended up in Mylai. Other sites I have seen say that the one in Hanoi was built, still others say that it is still being worked on. If I find information that settles this I will post it. If you know anything about it I would love to know. You can reach me via the email address at the left.

The Highground flies the American flag and the POW/MIA flag at all times in honor of the lost and missing that we might Never Forget.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I don't usually interrupt the flow of my posts but, today I must make an exception. I am in Tucson, Az. and they are experiencing the coldest temperatures EVER recorded. It has been in the 'teens several evenings in a row. If you have been following the news you know that they are having terrible problems supplying natural gas to peoples homes. As a result, water lines are freezing and bursting all over creating havoc for many. People have been falling on the ice outside our hotel. It took a little bit for the hotel to get salt and barricades out to help. I guess this is just something they are not used to dealing with out here in the desert!

I came across these statues outside the Palomino Mall at Swan and Fort Lowell and couldn't resist getting the pics. I drove by two days later, the temp was in the 60's and there was still a little ice on a couple of them.

Anyway, enjoy. The memorial posts will continue on the regular five day schedule.

Friday, February 4, 2011


This memorial began with a promise to a dying friend. In 1965, in the fields of Vietnam, Tom Miller made a vow to his dying friend; that his death would never be forgotten. In 1984, Miller and others began the actual work of planning, site selection, fund raising and all the necessary work to make this promise, a reality. By 1986 the first permanent fixture was in place and the work has been ongoing ever since.

It is hard for me to know where to begin when writing about Wisconsin's memorial. Located in Neillsville, it brings to mind Bob Seger's line about "what to leave in and what to leave out" There is just so much! I will try to do this magnificent site justice, but I fear my abilities will be found lacking.

One thing to mention is that those who operate the site point out that this is a Veteran's Memorial, not a war memorial. I have been struck as I travel to so many sites how often this the case.

I first visited the site in the evening, really too late to take any decent pictures. I just walked around and took the place in as well as I could. Even in the evening people were coming in, in ones and twos, to walk the silent grounds. To remember, to heal, to just visit.

There is a nice visitors center on site which was closed too, but I later found out that it was built by vets, for vets. I decided that I would return the next day to check this remarkable, visionary, dare I say, sacred, spot out more completely. It was a decision that turned out to be one of the best I have made on these journeys.

The next day, the sky was clear and blue and the memorial was even more enthralling. What I expected to be a visit of an hour or so turned into one that lasted much of the day. The people here welcomed me with open arms and when they discovered what I was trying to do, they could not have been more helpful. My main contact was named Joyce and she just bent over backwards to see that I had what I wanted to do this place justice. Thank you, again, Joyce!

After some conversation, she insisted that I take the self guided tour of the site. This is not something I always have the time (or patience) to do. She was 100% correct! The info provided on the tour was great. If you get to this site, take the time. You won't regret it!

One of the primary things you learn is that the area is called The High Ground, not surprisingly because it is! The site was not chosen because of this, but, vets noticed it right away and the name has stuck. It sits on 140 acres of beautiful Wisconsin land and the site was chosen because it sits in the geographical center of the state. Anyone in the state can drive to, visit and return home in one day. This was one of the primary goals of the planners; that all be able to visit without extraordinary expense. Joyce told me that the local motel which has some other name now answers its phones "The High Ground", so it has become the norm.

Read the plaque (pic 3) as it explains far better than I can the significance of the components of the statue, Fragments. Also, this is the first memorial to feature a woman, look closely at the statue and you can see that the poncho wearing figure is in fact a woman and from her poncho hang the bronze rods naming each of those lost. This is her burden.

Remember, if you 'click" on a picture, it will enlarge in a new window!

Note in the final picture the wristbands and beaded key chains etc that visitors have left on the statue. More about the key chains, later.

Also, note the inverted rifle (pics 2 and 5). This was a sign that a medivac was needed.

I will spend the next couple of posts here at The High Ground. There is much to tell, before moving on to some more beautiful and unusual sites in Wisconsin.

Here is specific contact information;

The Highground

W7031 Ridge Road

Neillsville, WI 54456

Phone: (715) 743 - 4224