Veterans plan memorials in Traxler Park

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Marcia Nelesen
Saturday, January 25, 2014

JANESVILLE--Veterans who served in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan soon will have their own memorials in Veterans Plaza at Traxler Park.

Tom Stehura, president of the Janesville Patriotic Society, on Monday night will brief the Janesville City Council on plans to erect a memorial commemorating those who served in the Vietnam War and are serving in the war on terrorism.

The council is expected to give its OK.

Cost is estimated at about $36,000 for both memorials.

The society will raise the money through its members, with grants and donations. Members of the society include American Legion Post No. 205 and the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 236.

The groups also solicited electricians, an architect and others to donate services.

The patriotic society is providing drawings for the project and coordinating construction.

Stehura, who is a Vietnam veteran, said at least 100 veterans are members of the local veterans group.  It is harder to put a number on Afghan and Iraqi war veterans because they have yet to organize into groups, he said.

The memorials will be erected near the entrance of the memorial walkway on the west and east sides.

The Vietnam memorial will be patterned after the one in Washington, D.C., with its angles and slopes, Stehura said. It will be about 4 feet high at the middle and slope at angles on two sides. It will be mounted on a square granite base.

Two options are being considered for the terror war monument. One option depicts black granite twin towers to represent 9/11. The other is a black obelisk, possibly mounted on a half-globe of bronze wire.

Battlefield crosses will be erected on both sides, as well. They will include the boots, rifles and helmets soldiers wore in each engagement. Those will be 4 feet high and made of bronze.

The park has 10 memorials, including nine granite monuments recognizing seven Medal of Honor recipients, gold star mothers, Purple Heart recipients and the eternal flame.

Flooding is sometimes an issue in Traxler Park, but the other memorials have held up, Stehura noted.

Stehura hopes to have the work done by Veterans Day, but the main focus will be the Vietnam memorial because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first major commitment of U.S. troops to Vietnam, Stehura said.

“We're hoping we can do everything at once and have a double dedication,” Stehura said.

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