Memorial in Spencer to honor past, present, and future military personnel
By Adam Hocking
SPENCER — Jerry Wienke served in the U.S. Army from 1983-1989 and has two children who currently serve in the Coast Guard. His daughter, who was her high school class’ valedictorian, had plenty of options when she finished school but chose to serve her country.
Personal experience, though, is not the only driving force behind Wienke’s mission to bring a veterans memorial to Spencer. Spencer has long been a proud supporter of the military. In 2012 five out of 39 Spencer graduates entered the military directly after high school, Wienke said.
“It says a lot about the community,” Wienke said of the decision of multiple young men and women from Spencer to enlist. Such community involvement in the military has led Wienke to work towards bringing a veterans memorial to Spencer, which will honor past, present, and future military personnel.
Wienke, who currently works at Central State Supply, said the memorial’s purpose will be to honor the memory of fallen veterans and remind people of those still serving.
“Don’t forget them. Don’t forget the veterans. That’s why we are where we are,” Wienke said.
The memorial will be located at the crossroads of Highway 13 and Highway 98 in Spencer, and groundbreaking will be Saturday, April 11. Wienke said the location of the memorial, which will also be a park, was chosen because 8,000 cars pass by every day.
The Department of Transportation initially owned the land, which was designated for a park and ride, but the village of Spencer purchased the land back from the DOT under the condition that it was kept as a green space, Wienke said.
“You can’t have a better fitting green space than a veterans park, and that’s kind of how it all came about, how that particular spot came about,” Wienke said.
The total project is estimated to cost $51,000 with about $26,000 already raised. Donors have the option of purchasing a plaque that will commemorate their contributions to the founding of the memorial or having a brick engraved to commemorate a veteran. The bricks will then be used in the construction of the pathway that leads up to the memorial. The project also received a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin.
Wienke said that he hopes to have a dedication ceremony in mid-July of this year. K & S Excavating & Landscaping will be doing the work to complete the memorial.
At the groundbreaking on Saturday, the New Directions Veterans Choir—a musical group composed of military veterans—will sing a few songs as part of the ceremony. The ceremony begins at 1 p.m.
For more information about the Spencer Veterans Memorial project, contact the village of Spencer office at 715-659-5423 or email Jerry Wienke at firstname.lastname@example.org.