News: Neillsville – Veterans Cemetery Project (2017)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: LaMarche, Seelow, Kolano, Kitchen, Larson
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 10/25/2017
Veterans Cemetery Project (Seeks to Correct Injustice - 2017)
Members of Neillsville American Legion Auxiliary Unit 73 and organizers of the Veterans Cemetery Project (VCP) strike a pose Oct. 18 in front of the American Flag dedicated that day. The VCP has installed 90 flags thus far in many cemeteries throughout Clark, Jackson, Adams, and Juneau counties to honor veterans who are laid to rest there. (Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press)
By Todd Schmidt
Many cemeteries where veterans are laid to rest do not fly the American Flag.
Organizers of the Wisconsin non-profit Veterans Cemetery Project (VCP) organization are seeking to correct that injustice.
As of Oct. 18, the VCP had installed 90 illuminated flags at various places, including Clark County Cemeteries located at Dells Dam, Town of Levis, Beaver Creek, Lynn Dairy Lutheran, Town of Seif, Columbia, York Center, Town of Irving, Town of Pine Valley North and South, and Jackson County Cemeteries located at Knapp, Town of Northfield, Stanford, and Shamrock of Alma Center, Oxbow in North Bend, French Creek, and Little Norway Lutheran in the Town of Albion, and Trout Run in the Town of Irving.
The latest placement was last Wednesday at the Neillsville City Cemetery. Neillsville American Legion Auxiliary Unit #73 donated $350 to purchase the flag and materials. Members of the Auxiliary attended the flag dedication ceremony.
VCP co-founder Russell LaMarche said Oct. 18, the effort started when he observed a broken flagpole in the Marion Township Cemetery near Mauston.
“The flagpole was broken laying on the ground, and the flag was tattered and torn. I picked up the flag pole, leaned it against a tree, removed the flab, and took it for proper disposal,” LaMarche said.
LaMarche said the fund-raising drive started small, leaving jugs at local taverns with a note saying what the collection was for. Then the project took off.
Several service organizations assisted in raising funds and placing flags, including Lions Clubs in Juneau and Adams counties. LaMarche continues to work with legislators to get a law passed requiring flags to be flown in every cemetery throughout the country.
In that same vein, DeWayne Seelow, former commander and now quartermaster of Neillsville VFW Post #2241 and Bishop Kolano, chairman of the Town of Pine Valley, worked together to place illuminated flags at the Pine Valley North and South cemeteries. The flags were placed in September 2016. LaMarche said it costs about $400 to install each unit, including the cement base, pole, solar lighting apparatus and the flag.
Jim Kitchen, Post Commander of Ryan Larson Post #65 located in the Town of Rome in Adams County, said Oct. 18, it cost over $33,000 thus far for flagpole materials. An annual ATV ticket raffle has raised a portion of those funds.
Veterans who travel around installing the flagpoles do so at their own expense.
“Veterans who are buried in these cemeteries all served under the American flag, and they should have the honor of being buried under the flag,” Kitchen said.
For more information, contact LaMarche at 608-584-4497 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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