Seneca unveils veterans memorial

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A veteran is reflected in the polished black granite of the entry stone to the new veterans memorial in Seneca, dedicated Wednesday, Nov. 11, Veterans Day 2015.

Veterans and their families searched intently for the names of their loved ones among the granite tablets listing all service men and women from the Seneca area who served, dating back to the Civil War.

Groundbreaking for the Seneca Area Veterans Memorial began 14 months ago. Since that time, over $120,000 was raised to erect the memorial, which was designed by 2014 Seneca graduate Cacey Ostrander. The project itself was spearheaded by Seneca resident and businessman, the late Jerry Johnson.

Trudy Johnson unveils a small stone and plaque at the base of the memorial’s flagpoles that Krause Monument donated in memory of her husband, Jerry, whose idea started the groundwork for a veterans memorial in Seneca.

Members of the McCormick-Rose American Legion Post 308, of Gays Mills, saluted the American Flag as it was raised for the dedication ceremony of the Seneca Area Veterans Memorial on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

By Correne Martin

Seneca area citizens and natives gathered with grateful hearts Wednesday, Nov. 11, for those who worked so hard to dream, plan and create a beautiful veterans memorial in the community, a reminder of the people who placed freedom for others over and above their own safety. In the words of Pastor Lynn Schreck, “It’s now a permanent reminder of our memories and our gratitude for those who’ve served.”

Less than 14 months from the date of the groundbreaking for the memorial, over 900 names of Seneca area service men and women are now etched into both sides of six black granite tablets representing war eras dating back to the Civil War. Those breathtaking tablets surround a 17,000-pound red granite centerpiece stamped with the emblems of each of the Armed Forces. Three flagpoles flying American, Wisconsin and Prisoner of War flags stand on the north end of the memorial, which was designed by 2014 Seneca High School graduate Cacey Ostrander. Also, 63 tiles in honor or memory of community members and businesses, past and present, lie on the south end. Seven granite benches dedicated to families and service men encircle the memorial, which was erected across the highway from Greener’s Corner.

A dedication of the new Seneca Area Veterans Memorial filled the community with pride and emotion on Veterans Day last week as several hundred people attended. Trudy Johnson, wife of the late Jerry Johnson, and family, unveiled the landmark for the crowd.

Trudy spoke about her late husband’s passion during the dedication ceremony, saying she believed Jerry would’ve been so proud of the committee and the community for what they came together to accomplish.

Roger Ostrander is the person Johnson, when he was ailing, hand picked to become the committee chairman. He also shared comments: “Jerry passed away before this was done but he put together the committee that helped make this happen. I sincerely hope everyone enjoys this memorial for years to come.”

Ostrander also directly addressed the kids from Seneca Schools in attendance, “Young ones, come visit this memorial. Take care of it, because it’s yours.”

In addition to Ostrander, committee members include Larry Kelley, Tom Olson, Cliff Tollefson, John Swanson and Carol Crusan.

Town Board Chairman Ron Hartley remarked about the veterans for whom this memorial now stands. “Thanks, to our veterans,” he stated. “You are the guardians of our flags, freedom and happiness. You make this a wonderful life for all of us. Thank you for this gift.”

Ann Winger, of Krause Monument, complimented the volunteers on the quick timeline the veterans committee followed. “This wouldn’t be possible without the many volunteers who contributed their time, equipment, materials and financial donations,” she said. “This was done in record time for something of this size. You should be very proud of your accomplishment on this project.”

Further poignant moments of the dedication ceremony involved Father Zacharie Beya blessing the memorial, the school kids singing “God Bless the USA” and the McCormick-Rose Post 308, of Gays Mills, presenting the colors and firing a salute.

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