Gold Star Mothers Monument, Purple Heart Monument unveiled

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Shelly Birkelo
Monday, November 11, 2013

JANESVILLE—Loss united Kim Schneider and Anne Naeser on Veterans Day.

They stood somberly together under an umbrella and between two military escorts as they unveiled the Gold Star Mother Monument during the Veterans Day program at Traxler Park.

Naeser, of Janesville, represented her mother, Clara, and honored her brother Walter, who was killed in action during World War II.

Schneider, Janesville, lost her son Pfc. Sean Schneider in March 2004 in Iraq. His vehicle slid off an embankment, and he was killed. The 22-year-old 2000 Craig High School graduate was Rock County's first soldier to die in the Iraq War.

Schneider said the monument gives her and others the opportunity to pay respect to her son and to the lost children of other gold star mothers.

“The monuments dedicated today add history to Janesville, especially Veterans Plaza, and gives us a place to honor our loved ones. They also mean others won't forget our son and other soldiers' sacrifices for the freedom Americans have today in addition to honoring the families of those soldiers lost to war,” Schneider said.

Gold star mothers have lost sons or daughters in the service of the country.

The Purple Heart Monument also was unveiled in front of the 125 people at Traxler Park on Monday by Delia Pacheco and her husband Al Pacheco, Janesville. It's a remembrance to those who were wounded or killed while serving with the U.S. military.

“It's representative of the veterans who gave their all for this country and has a special meaning for me because when I was wounded I lost two guys and was the only survivor Nov. 3, 1966—a date I will always remember,” Al Pacheco said.

A brick walkway leads to the new light gray and black monuments.

Engraved bricks for the walkway are on sale now, said Tom Stehura, Janesville Patriotic Society president and organizer of Monday's program.

Stehura took time under the rain, sleet and snow to acknowledge those who donated time and materials to making the new monuments a reality.

This included Mike Eggleston, general contractor; Gary Burns and Lonnie Coplien of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers; Pat Lyons of Lycon/Janesville Sand and Gravel; Marty Kelley and Glen Van Buren of Westphal & Co.; Karen Conway and Craig Gramke of Gramke Monument Works; and veterans Bill Nielsen and Pacheco, who spent countless hours working on the walkway.

“Without all their donations of time and materials, this could not have happened,” Stehura said.

The new monuments cost about $12,000 and were paid for by the Patriotic Society that set aside money from the purchase of each brick at its Medal of Honor Walkway dedicated in 2005.

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