A few drizzles of rain didn’t turn away the many people in attendance at Taft Park in New London Saturday for the dedication of the city’s new veteran’s memorial. Chairman of the Veterans Memorial Foundation, James Jaeger, says it was a long journey, but the New London community was able to get it accomplished.
“I’ll tell you that we’ve had people donate anywhere from pennies to thousands and thousands of dollars to supporting this,” he said about the fundraising efforts. “It took us about two-and-a-half years to raise the funds for it and the community and the businesses of this community were just awesome with their support.”
State Representative Kevin Petersen spoke at the ceremony, describing the memorial as a constant reminder.
“These walls, this memorial, will stand strong as reminder. A reminder of the proudness expressed by spouses, parents, grandparents, siblings and friends of their loved ones currently serving in honor, both home and abroad for the freedoms defining America.”
Congressman Mike Gallagher shared his vision with the crowd on what he hopes this memorial can provide.
“My hope is that when people drive by this monument, if they stop and they take the time to read the names, they will not only be reminded of our veteran’s sacrifices but of what we owe to this country still as members of this community,” he addressed the crowd of a few hundred. “Because if our veteran’s sacrifices remind us of anything it’s not just that they are the best among us, but what is best within us. That all of us have some small way in which we can contribute to this community and to this country.”
After the ceremony, Congressman Gallagher told TCHDailyNews that it’s refreshing to see people come together in a time of such turmoil.
“Let’s face it, it’s a pretty divisive time right now politically, but if there’s one thing that unites all of us it’s that respect and appreciation for our veteran’s sacrifices. To be a part of this community which transcends party lines. It’s not Republican or Democrat it’s just Wisconsinites and Americans. I’m honored to call this community my brothers and my sisters.”
The community came together by the hundreds, which is not something that surprises Representative Petersen.
“It’s a great ceremony today. It’s great for those here in New London, in Waupaca County, the state and the nation to honor our veterans. Every community I go to in the state has the same hear, the same soul and they just love their communities and the veterans who help fight that they may have those communities.”
The end result and unveiling of the memorial is the culmination of the hard work and generosity of many, and while it was nice to see that pay off Saturday morning, but more is on the horizon.
“It’s just going to be nice to take a rest. We’re not done though,” Jaeger said. “We’re going to have more plans for the future.”
Those plans for now are not yet known.