The idea evolved and became a joint project that involved all 25 veteran’s organizations within Sheboygan County. The Sheboygan County Veteran’s Memorial Committee was formed. Each organization selected two representatives to serve on the committee and Koene was elected as the General Chairman at the meeting held in November 1988.
The Memorial Committee decided to erect a structure to honor those who lost their lives in the six wars Sheboygan County participated in:
The members of the Memorial Committee formed four sub-committees; Name Research, Site Selection, Design & Construction, and Public Relations.
The Name Research Committee was tasked with identifying the names of fallen soldiers. Over 800 hours was spent conducting extensive research to create the list. They used historical records and archives from the Sheboygan County Veteran’s Service Office, the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center, the public libraries of Sheboygan County, historical files of newspapers published in Sheboygan County, and private collections.
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 Design & Construction Committee began its task by studying drawing and photographs of similar memorials and monuments located throughout the United States and even other countries. They searched for suitable designs that could be incorporated into the Sheboygan County Veteran’s Memorial. After much consideration and discussion, the committee selected an original design (of 37 that were submitted). Norm Minster, of Sheboygan, submitted a design concept using arches on March 7, 1990. This design was selected by a vote of the General Committee.
The Design & Construction Committee continued their efforts with the construction component. They worked on refinements and changes that would be necessary in the building of the structure. They retained Zabel Monument Company as a consultant for the project.
The design utilized seven black granite stones in the form of monoliths. Each would be six feet high, five feet wide, and ten inches thick. They were purchased from domestic sources and placed under seven large concrete arches. Each arch would be approximately thirty feet high and ten feet wide. It was estimated that the total width of the memorial would be approximately 100 feet wide when complete.
Six of the stones would bear inscriptions of the names of the fallen soldiers. The monoliths would be arranged in a semicircle. They would be arranged in chronological order, from left to right, by the dates of the wars (The Civil War on the far left, and the Vietnam War on the far right). There would also be a seventh stone placed in the center of the six stones. On this seventh monolith would be inscribed a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt proclamation of the Bill of Rights, December 14, 1941.
“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.”
A ground-breaking ceremony was held by Sheboygan County Veteran’s Organizations on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1990. A fund-raising campaign was started on November 1, 1990. Letters were sent to businesses, industries, Veteran’s groups, and other potential donors, to finance the project. The goal was set for the amount required to erect the monument, $300,000.00.
In addition to donations, a special appeal was made to individuals who would like to have their own name inscribed on the back of the six monoliths as a personal memorial for a specific person named on the front. The donation for this inscription was set at $150.00 per name. Various construction services from area businesses were also donated.
A large sign was placed indicating the site followed by a 35-foot flagpole and United States Flag (5 feet by 8 feet). Later, the State of Wisconsin and the official POW/MIA flags were added. Each flag is illuminated and prominently displayed 24 hours a day.
In 2005, one casualty of the Global War on Terror, was added on the front of the black monoliths.
In 2012, the six branches of service emblems were added to the top of each arch. They include the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines.
The memorial created a huge response in additional name engravement requests. The Sheboygan County Veteran’s Memorial Committee decided an expansion was needed. This additional two-sided marble wall would allow space for additions for decades to come and was installed the summer of 2015. Construction was done by CS Construction, while Zabel Monument designed and engraved the second memorial wall. On October 10, 2015, the additional names were added to the newly constructed wall.
October 15, 2016, a Gold Star Memorial was revealed and dedicated. This was a dedication to all the Gold Star families whose loved ones paid the ultimate price by defending the United States of America. This was the very first Gold Star Memorial in the state of Wisconsin. It was sponsored by the Ivy League Garden Club, in cooperation with the Sheboygan County Veteran’s Memorial Committee.
The second Saturday in October has been designated as an Annual Name Engraving Event. On that day we recognize, dedicate, and honor those veterans those veterans who have been added to the memorial wall that year. Honorees, their families, friends, and the community are invited to attend and honor Sheboygan County’s men and women who gave their lives.