Gerald Lang Milaca Veterans Memorial

Retired Maj. Gen. Gerald Lang speaks during the Nov. 11, 2021 dedication of the Milaca Veterans Memorial.

 

The Milaca Veterans Memorial began two years ago as a community vision and was fittingly dedicated on Veterans Day as a standing monument to those who served in America’s armed forces.

A brisk wind chilled the air as hundreds of people filled Milaca’s Trimble Park to christen the $280,000 memorial in honor of all military veterans.

Tim Poorker, chairman of the Milaca Area Veterans Memorial Committee was mindful of the weather conditions that those in attendance at the memorial dedication were enduring.

“But a lot of Veterans endured much worse while they were serving,” Poorker said.

Milaca City Council Member Dave Dillan called the memorial a great example of citizens having an idea and bringing it forward in doing the work and getting it done.

Poorker recalled the early days of the project when designs were submitted in order to get a bid on constructing the memorial.

“The initial estimate was more than $300,000. We just about had a heart attack,” Poorker said.

The Milaca Area Veterans Memorial Committee wondered how it could get the project completed with such a high cost estimate.

But the Milaca community is not one to be under-estimated. There was great support from the community and a project estimated to take three years was completed in a little over one year.

“We forged ahead- even during COVID-19,” Poorker said. An anonymous donor made a large  contribution that really helped move the project forward, Poorker said.

Mayor Pete Pedersen led the crowd in a moment of silence to honor our veterans before keynote speaker, Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gerald Lang, took the platform. 

Lang is a former Milaca resident who served in the U.S. Armed Forces for more than 40 years. He retired in 2014 after serving in tours in Bosnia/Herzegovina in 2003-04 as part of a NATO Stabilization Force and in Iraq in 2009-10 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lang talked about what it means to be a veteran.

For Lang, serving his country has proven to be one of his life’s greatest works, he said.

Being a veteran afforded Lang to be associated with men and women who were willing to fight to win our nation’s war and willing to lay down their lives for the cause.

He also made life-long friends he refers to as his “battle-buddies.”

“We have a bond that can’t be explained,” he said.

As Lang recalled the groundbreaking for the memorial just one year ago, and took in the finished project on a cold and blustery Veterans Day, he was left with just a few simple but meaningful words for those involved in making the Milaca Veterans Memorial a reality.

“Well done, my friends,” Lang said. “Well done.”

Milaca City Manager Tammy Pfaff, Pastor Tom Sahlstrom and project engineer Dave Blommel also spoke. The Milaca High School Band braved the cold to play the “Armed Forces Medley,” and  Lydia Bauer led the crowd in singing the  National Anthem.

Poorker noted that more than 300 memorial brinks have been purchased and installed at the site. There is room for 600 more bricks, but supply-chain issues brought installation to a halt for 2021. The laying of bricks will pick up again in the spring. Those interested in honoring a veteran with a commemorative brick can still do so. The cost is $100. They can be purchased at Milaca City Hall during normal business hours. An order form can also be found at the customer service desk of Teal’s Market.

Editor

Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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