Tuesday, May 26, 2015

America Observes Memorial Day

Wood Cemetery began with Civil War Soldier burials in 1871
Since I'm a veteran, I feel the importance of remembering the people I served with who are no longer around.  I think of the loss we all feel because they weren't around to have children, become civilians, create lives that may have been linked with ours.  It's also my birthday weekend and I feel incredibly blessed every year I get to celebrate, and wish they were here for birthday cake too.

This year for Memorial Day, we went to a unique memorial called High Ground.  It's near Neillsville, WI, and was started around 1984 by an individual who suffered a great loss during Vietnam.  You can read more about him at the website.  If you didn't know it was there, you probably wouldn't even stop.  But don't make that mistake.  It has monuments to many conflicts and wars, with an ongoing fundraising campaign for the next memorial to the Persian Gulf War. There are bricks throughout the grounds with names of people, organizations, and families who support veterans or have lost a loved one. You can find a comfortable bench for prayer and meditation.  Maybe you prefer to take a walk on the 4 miles of trails.  Be sure to read the stones and pick up an audio tour device for more information about the memorials.

This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War, and High Ground received a Motorcycle Honor Ride.  Though it was a rainy morning, it turned into a beautiful afternoon as the motorcycles arrived from around the state and rode through a reception area of flags and clapping people.  Every veteran was thanked and received a red ribbon.  You could have lunch before the ceremony where names were read for those from Wisconsin who were killed in action/Missing in action during Vietnam & Korea. The written program included a listing of all killed during Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  It was much longer than I expected. I'll share some photos I took.
A replica liberty bell everyone is encouraged to ring
to remember to let freedom ring

This memorial has the names of all those killed
hanging under the poncho

Motorcycles rode through applause and flags

Carnations on the seats for participants

Part of the High Grounds with the Visitor Center behind

Vietnam Vet
After visiting the High Ground, we drove back to Milwaukee and stopped at Wood National Cemetery while flags were still on all the graves.  It's a major undertaking, but volunteers place at least one flag at each gravesite every year.  As a veteran, I could be buried here one day.  There are graves from every major conflict starting with the civil war.  This cemetery started just 2 years after Memorial Day was officially started. There were floral wreaths, letters to servicemen, and remembrances from friends and fellow soldiers. It was very moving to see.  Whether you're a veteran or not, I encourage you to visit one of these amazing places for Memorial Day...or any day...and remember those who died so that we could enjoy the lifestyle we have.
Letter to unknown soldier
Wreath and flags for medal of honor recipient



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