A MEMORIAL SHOULD BE FOREVER

In the late 1980’s a group of Wisconsin Korean War Veterans decided it was time to remember the 801 fighting men from Wisconsin who paid the “Supreme Sacrifice” during what was then referred to as “America’s Forgotten War,” and to honor others from the Badger State “who dared to die – but lived.”

A not-for-profit corporation was soon formed – the Korean War Veterans Memorial Association of Wisconsin, Inc. (KWVMAW) – with officers and a board of directors. Planning and major fund raising began. In 1990, the Village of Plover made an offer the Board could hardly refuse. The village fathers donated a 2.5 acre island situated in Lake Pacawa which was surrounded by a beautiful municipal park. There was an outpouring of enthusiasm from the citizens of this fast-growing Portage County community from the outset which continues unabated to this day. The sale of Memorial Tiles continues to fund perpetual care.

A sand berm connected the north shoreline to the island memorial site and a groundbreaking ceremony was held in 1993. Steel and concrete overlay followed and an initial dedication was held the next year – just months before the death of founder Chauncey Dunday.

The Wisconsin Legislature gave the project $300,000 in matching funds. In 1997, when the $600,000 had been raised and full-sized bronze statuary, flag poles and 75-thousand pound granite wall had been erected, a second dedication was held. Each year, an annual “Homecoming” program is held at the memorial complex. Greater Plover VFW Post 10262 has provided a unique Honor Guard and Firing Party which participate at all the ceremonies.

About 2004, there was a period of drought which drew down the lake and seriously deteriorated the concrete Causeway. The Board had civil engineers assess the problem and voted to make PERMANENT repairs using a new product called Armorflex. The Legislature appropriated $165,000 in matching funds, with veterans groups, foundations contributing.

The Village of Plover gave $30,000. Work began in early autumn of 2008, and the project was completed by the time snow fell in December. A dedication was held in June 2009.

A memorial should be forever. Most Korean War Veterans are now in their late seventies and early eighties. Who will maintain our magnificent memorial after we are gone? Answer? The Village of Plover has agreed to do so, at the suggestion of Village Administrator Dan Mahoney, the Village Trustees, and with the concurrence of the KWVMAW Board of Directors. In late 2009 the KWVMAW disbanded, leaving no indebtedness.

The mutual agreement provides that ownership of the complex now rests with the Village of Plover, although its name will forever be called the Wisconsin Korean War Veterans Memorial at Plover. Former KWVMAW officers and board members will meet in Plover three times annually as an Advisory Committee to the Village Trustees. The Memorial will be maintained by the Village and there will be a ceremony and program each June. A “Change of Command” ceremony and program was held on Sunday, June 6, 2010.