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The Highground rests in honor, remembrance and healing, on top of an older glacial moraine, one or two glacial epochs older than the last great Wisconsinan glaciation that melted away only 12,000 years ago. The Highground soars to a lofty view that oversees a half-million acres of wild forested canopy that flows down to the distant horizon.

The Highground

In 1986, the 70-foot flag pole was the first permanent structure raised on The Highground with a promise to fly this nation's flag and the POW-MIA flag forever.

We will not forget you.

The Highground is not a war memorial. It is a 146-acre Veterans Memorial Park that pays tribute to the Dead, and honors the Survivors, their Service, and their Sacrifice. It also pays tribute to the people, families and loved ones who supported them when they were away and upon their return.

The Highground Plaza

The Plaza gently ushers and welcomes visitors into the heart of the park and then walks them to the precipice at the edge of the moraine to discover the Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Tribute, called Fragments.

Fragments, Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Tribute

Fragments

The Highground fulfills a promise made in 1965, to a dying friend on a battle field in Vietnam that his death would not be forgotten.

Fragments

Fragments

is the first veterans tribute in the United States to include a woman in the statuary. None of the figures in the statue is complete. All four flow into one another, depending on each to be strengthened and buoyed up by the other.

Under her poncho, the combat nurse stands over the fragments, as she gathers and carries the burdens of all Wisconsin veterans killed in Vietnam. She carries 1,244 inscribed names bundled into bamboo-shaped bronze rods, interspersed with dog-tag like wind-chimes. These bundled names were never meant to be seen or read aloud, but are free to let loose their silenced voices and the prayers of their loved ones to be heard on the tinkling of chimes on the wind.

I hear the tinkling of the chimes today.

Fragments, the nurse carries all the names of KIA, WI

The statue is set into a replica of a Wisconsin Native American burial mound. A broken rifle rises above the mound, showing the war is over. The M-16 is placed in the upside-down position calling for a medevac landing. A flash of orange stained glass is inset in the rifle to remind us that the effects of Agent Orange are still ongoing.  

Upside-down rifle, need Medic, now

The Nurse stands at a place of honor at the base of the flag pole on the Plaza. She is recognised as one of the first tributes to all women veterans in service to the nation. She is often found with roses and mementos of thanks in her arms, left by visitors who remember her kindness and care.

IMG_4848
The Nurse

Earth is sacred and holds special meaning on The Highground. The Dove is an earthen Native American effigy mound built from earth brought from all 72 counties of Wisconsin, many states in the U.S., North and South Vietnam and 18 other countries.  

Mourning Dove Effigy Mound

The Dove honors Prisoners of War (POW) and those who remain Missing in Action (MIA).

A second MIA is recognized on The Highground: those who are home in body, yet are scarred physically, mentally, emotionally or in spirit. These are recognized as the Missing in America.

This living memorial is 100 feet from head to tail with a wing span of 140 feet.

Mourning Dove Effigy Mound

This effigy mound is a spiritual place where you can come and let your Mother, the earth, hold you. Let the children play on it. Dance on it. Use it to unload your grief and pain. Let it renew and strengthen you. Lay back in the soft folds of its wings and let mother earth unburden you. Then get up and leave your troubles and cares on the mound, as you walk away renewed and refreshed.
John A Beaudin
IMG_4872
Gold Star

The Gold Star, is another living tribute that honors Gold Star Mothers and all family members and friends that have lost a loved one in service. The shrubs and flowers are planted in soil brought from families' yards, gardens and locations where they last saw their loved ones.

IMG_4816
National Native American Vietnam Veterans Memorial

This is the first National Memorial to be placed on The Highground. A ten ton block of red granite symbolizes the blood that was shed. The sculpture depicts a Native American soldier in jungle fatigues, holding his rifle in one hand and an eagle feather staff in the other.

IMG_4818

At the base is a circle of white stones representing a field of honor. The names of all Native Americans in North America who died as a result of the Vietnam War are etched in the black granite base that skirts the statuary.

The Korean Tribute
The Korean Tribute

This tribute is comprised of three bronze figures depicting Heat, Anguish and Cold, placed on granite in the shape of Korea and surrounded by water. The entire tribute rests within a circle of the ying-yang symbol.  

The Korean Tribute
Heat, Anguish and Cold

This tribute is designed to educate the public about the Korean War and to heal those veterans of Korea that felt their service and sacrifice went unnoticed in the 'Forgotten War'.  The history of the Korean War from 1950-1953 is engraved on black granite plaques ringing the tribute. Additional space is available to record the next chapter in this unresolved dispute.

WWII Women Airforce Service Pilots WASP
WWII WASP Women Airforce Service Pilots Tribute

Over 1,100 WASPs served as test pilots, flying instructors, and transport pilots during WWII between 1942 and 1944. The US government did not recognize these women as service veterans until the late 1970s. The Highground pays tribute to these veterans.

WWII Globe
WWII Globe

This stainless steel globe features stained glass campaign ribbons that match the blouse decorations worn by WWII veterans. Major battles of the European and Pacific Theaters are listed on the granite base. It honors the 16 million people who were in uniform and calls attention to the far reaches of a world war.

Fountain of Tears
Fountain of Tears

The Meditation Garden welcomes everyone whose footsteps guide them along its pathway and whose hearts seek sanctuary and promise of spiritual renewal.  

Fountain Of Tears

In one hand the GI is holding dog tags of his fallen comrade. His other hand rests on a helmet and impaled rifle. His tears flow through the fountain under the bridge and into the pond. The wife and child of the fallen soldier sit at the end of the pond holding a folded flag.

Fountain of Tears
Fountain of Tears
Prayer Stone
Prayer Stone
Kneel    Pray    Heal

Healing and hope abide in the warm embrace of the family arbor, the gentle sound of the Fountain of Tears and the reflective quiet of the Prayer Stone.

Ascension of Doves
Ascention of Doves

This signature sculpture for the Meditation Garden features seven doves and was sponsored by a Gold Star family in memory of their son who died in Iraq.

Family Arbor Room
Family Arbor
The Doughboy
The Doughboy

The tribute to World War I veterans features a Doughboy with his rifle at parade rest and a raised right hand with open palm as if to greet visitors as they enter the park or bid farewell as they leave.

Liberty Bell
Liberty Bell

The Highground Bell is an exact replica of the Liberty Bell. Visitors are encouraged to ring it to honor the veterans.

In 2003, The Highground made a pledge soon after the Iraq war began to not let those from Wisconsin who died in the wars go in silence. At all events at The Highground the names are read and the Liberty Bell is rung for all whom have died from Wisconsin in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Let them not go in silence.
Thank you for your service.

Originally posted to Wild Notebook on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:11 AM PST.

Also republished by J Town, Badger State Progressive, and Community Spotlight.

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