History of the Sheboygan County Veterans Memorial
The Sheboygan County Veterans Memorial project began in June 1988, at the annual installation ceremonies for the officers of the 14 American Legion posts in Sheboygan County. Norbert P. Koene, Sheboygan County Commander of the American Legion, suggested a countywide project to honor the war dead from Sheboygan County who gave their lives in protection and preservation of the freedoms enjoyed today by all the citizens of the United States.
Forming A Committee
The idea of a suitable memorial evolved into a joint project involving other Sheboygan County veteran groups. The Sheboygan County Veterans Memorial Committee was formed as a coalition of all 25 veteran’s organizations. Each organization was asked to select two representatives to serve on the Memorial Committee. Koene was elected as the General Chairman at the organizational meeting held in November 1988.
The Memorial Committee (a General Committee functioning as a committee-of-the-whole) decided that an appropriate structure would be erected at a suitable location within Sheboygan County to honor the war dead from the six wars in which servicemen and service women made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedoms. Through the support and commitment of the Sheboygan County Board, the location chosen was a unique site on a hillside with a prominent view at 3091 Wilgus Road.
The following subcommittees were formed including the following: Name Research, Site Selection, Design and Construction, and Public Relations.
Name Research Committee
The Name Research Committee was responsible for identifying the names of the individuals who sacrificed their lives in the wars. Over 800 hours were spent doing extensive research to compile this list.
A total of 767 names were identified, and verified, by war in which they sacrificed their lives.
The American Civil War – 385
The Spanish American War – 2
World War I – 94
World War II – 226
Korean War – 22
Vietnam War – 38
Site Selection Committee
The Site Selection Committee viewed numerous locations that were proposed throughout Sheboygan County. The criteria for the site committee included; size (acreage), visibility, and accessibility. Under the recommendation of the Site Selection Committee, the General Committee selected the proposed site on the west side of the City of Sheboygan. The Memorial was constructed on the north slope of Taylor Park.
Design and Construction Committee
The Design and Construction Committee began its task by studying drawings and photographs of similar memorials and monuments located throughout the United States and other countries. After considerable evaluation, discussion and debate, it was decided to use a design that was original and never used before. A total of 37 designs were submitted for consideration. On March 7, 1990, a design concept using arches, submitted by Norman Minster of Sheboygan, and approved by the General Committee.
Final Construction of the Sheboygan County Veterans Memorial
In April of 1990, the final construction plans were finalized. Each black granite stone would measure six feet high, five feet wide, and ten inches thick and would be placed under seven large concrete arches to form a monolith. Each arch would be approximately 30 feet high and 10 feet wide. Six of the stones would be inscribed (on the front) with the names of the war dead from each of the six wars. They would be arranged in a semicircle, in chronological order, from left to right by the dates of the wars starting with the Civil War to the Vietnam War. On Veterans Day, November 11, 1990, ground breaking ceremonies were held at the site by the Sheboygan County Veteran’s organizations.
The center stone was inscribed with an appropriate quotation by President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaiming the Bill of Rights Day, December 15, 1941.
“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.”
Sheboygan County Veterans Memorial Grand Opening
On Saturday, August 20, 1994 at 1:00 p.m. the Sheboygan County Veterans Memorial was officially opened to the public. This event was attended by federal, state, county, and local government dignitaries. Various Sheboygan County veterans organizations (American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Amvets, DAV, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart) played a prominent role in the dedication ceremonies. Also participating were two statewide organizations representing the American Civil War, the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Brigade (Civil War reenactors).