Wall of Thanks
Local group works to create veterans honor wall
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD – A local group is working to create a local Veterans Honor Wall to recognize Marshfield veterans, a project which Marshfield Alder and project coordinator, Tom Buttke said began with a walk through the cemetery.
“It started with my sisters. We went up to the cemetery, as you get older I guess that is what you do. We went through Flanders Field, and beyond there; and then we noticed veterans graves all over the cemetery. They really weren’t being recognized; no fault of anybody, but there was 200-300 short with the research I did. Records weren’t real good for the cemetery years ago; now they are pretty good,” Buttke said.
“So, I thought, boy, all of those guys and ladies should be recognized.”
“We meet for breakfast and there are a bunch of people and one of the men there, who has passed and this is how it started, was Charles Hennes. We started talking about it, and Tom was bringing ideas,” recalled Dr. Connie Jonett.
“(Hennes) went to Columbus High School in town, and then he went to tech college, and then he went into the military. So, we created a scholarship for any student at Columbus High School that was going to go into tech college or the military.”
With a dad, brother, and uncle who served, Jonett was fully on board, and so was her husband, Alan.
The group then started a brat fry fundraiser, to support the scholarship program.
“People that did not know Chuck Hennes; he was a Marine, he was in Vietnam, he was wounded severely,” Buttke explained. “He had many obstacles – cancer and so on – but he volunteered for just about everything. You name it if someone needed help he did it.”
But, last year fundraising went to a whole new level when Buttke and his sisters visited the cemetery.
Buttke said that originally he was thinking about putting a wall of veterans names up in the cemetery, but cost and vandalism became a concern.
Then, Buttke noticed a large, open wall at the 2nd Street Community Center.
“So, we got to thinking about (the 2nd Street Community Center.) I talked to Justin Casperson, from the Park & Recreation Department,” Buttke explained.
Once they had approval on the wall, Buttke and the group began fundraising and the funds quickly came together.
With enough money to start the project, Tom; sisters, Renie Rehmer and Cathy Tauschek; and the Jonetts started working with Stratford Sign Company and two local muralists on the Veterans Honor Wall, which will feature 27 clear panels with veterans names on a flag background.
“The veterans that will be honored are the ones that are buried at the Hillside Cemetery; Brooklawn Cemetery, out on what used to be Highway 13 South; and then McMillan Memorial, which is the cemetery off from McMillan (Street.) Other than that, people from outside the city we can’t put on because it is never ending,” Buttke added.
Work on the project is scheduled to begin in late December.
“One thing that it has really done for me is brought the attention of veterans to me. I mean, I always knew that you have tons of veterans around the city, but it is just a new appreciation for them. To see them finally get recognized in a different way,” Tauschek stated.
“The whole project is impressive, and we probably can’t say enough about our brother doing all of this, and he is not a veteran. He, and our family, values the veterans and their service, so we are glad to help wherever we can,” Rehmer said.
The group is still taking donations through the Marshfield Area Community Foundation. For more information on the project, contact Buttke at 715-897-1604.