NORTH FOND DU LAC - It took roughly 14 months for it to take shape, but the first phase of the North Fond du Lac Veterans Memorial is complete just in time for Veterans Day.
Hundreds of people braved the wind and threat of rain to dedicate the new memorial Sunday.
While the monument will stand to honor those who have served, some veterans say it will serve more as a place of reflection for veterans of today.
"It's a feeling that I can't even put into words," said Keith King, president of the North Fond du Lac Veteran's Memorial Committee.
King says it's fitting the first phase was completed in time for Veterans Day. It gave U.S. Army Sergeant and North Fond du Lac resident John Lamke a chance to see it.
Something that's going to outlast us all
A 20 year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army – Lamke will deploy to Afghanistan in the coming months.
It's a memorial that Lamke says shows current members of the Armed Forces they are not forgotten; that those on the home front are just planning and building for when they safely return home.
"There's people back here that support them. That care for them and they want to build something that's going to be here a lot longer than they are," said the fire and platoon sergeant.
"What better of a place to reflect than this?" said Lamke, dressed in his Army dress uniform.
"When I got back from Iraq in 2007, I took about a week and just went camping and stared at a fire for a week to decompress," explained Lamke. "There's an area, right here, right close to home."
Lamke – who's served in Operation Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and now Enduring Freedom – also served on the North Fond du Lac Veteran's Memorial Committee.
"I was just so happy that we got it to this point so that he was able to see this and be a part of it, before he has to go over and serve our country again," said King.
Work must still be done
Ringing the concrete pad of the memorial are separate concrete foundations for stone tablets that will hold up to 252 names each of community veterans, past and present.
King said that second phase will require about $35,000 to complete.
King added commemorative pavers at the base of the monument are available for purchase.
He said if veterans or soldiers would like their names engraved on the tablets when installed, sign up sheets are posted at the North Fond du Lac Village Hall and library.
Money can be donated to the Veteran's Memorial Committee at:
702 Florida Avenue, North Fond du Lac, Wis. 54937
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