NEILSVILLE, Wisconsin (WAOW) – One by one, the families of fallen soldiers marched to the main stage at the Highground Memorial in Neilsville to get a first glimpse of how their loved one will be immortalized.
“There really are no words for it,” said Paul Wilbur of Wisconsin Rapids.
Wilbur was in Neilsville with another family from Green Bay, paying tribute to his nephew, who served with US troops in the Middle East and died at just 22.
“There really are no words to turn it into an emotion that anyone who hasn’t experienced it would be able to understand,” Wilbur said.
Not just him, but nine others now with their names etched in stone forever.
“You are part of our Highground family forever. Congratulations,” said a memorial host, after laying each stone.
According to staff, remembering the lives of those who left too soon and honoring those who still live is one of the reasons events like these are special to so many.
“Seeing the Vietnam vets take the Persian Gulf vets under their wing is just remarkable and it is very humbling. I hear stories every day, someone will come to Fragments and look up their friend’s name,” said Donation Coordinator Kay Anason.
She also says it’s not just the monuments and history that make the memorial what it is today.
“It’s the people who make it special because there is something special here,” said Anason.
She says sharing those moments with families is just another day.
“You just want to hang in there because you don’t want to collapse in front of thousands of people on camera or something like that, then you just remember the good times to keep the sad times away,” Wilbur said.
Stones were available to families through a donation.