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Monday, June 16, 2014

Dad's Legacy Stone Placement Ceremony

It is Monday June 16, 2014.  I finally have a chance to sit down and write about the fantastic weekend we had.  Last Saturday, my dad was honored for his World War II service.  Last year I wrote about a wonderful Veteran's Memorial called The Highground in Neillsville Wisconsin.  It is a memorial for all veterans living and dead.  Being a non-profit organization, they raise money through donations and by selling items such as the Legacy Stones.  These granite stones are engraved with the veteran's name and any information that can fit in 60 spaces.  Then once a month from April until October they have a big celebration to honor the veteran by laying the granite stone in the walkway for all to see for years to come.  They usually have a morning and afternoon ceremony.  They also have a registry for each person with pictures, letters or any other information the family or person would like to share with the public. 

http://www.thecabincountess.com/2013/09/the-highground-veterans-memorial.html





Kenneth W. Dux

I think I will start from the beginning.  As I stated in my blog, we visited The Highground last year and learned about the Legacy stones.  Anyone else interested in doing this, all the information needed is found online at http://www.thehighground.org/  After completing the process for purchasing the stone, we had to sign up for an available date.  We chose June 14, 2014 at 1:00pm.  It seemed so far in the future, but time passed very quickly and before we knew it, the date was here.  We live a little over two hours away.  I knew dad would be excited so we went the night before and stayed in a motel.  I figured if we left from home on that day, he would be up and dressed by 5:00 am.  I thought if we were closer, he would know we couldn't be late.  I was wrong, he was still up at 5:00 am.  My sister and her husband also came the night before.  They came from Michigan so it did give us some time to visit and go out for dinner.  My uncle came to visit later in the evening and that gave us time to talk without a lot of people around.  When it was finally time on Saturday, we drove to the Highground.  I thought we would drive in and park.  Oh my gosh!  We drove in and there were people everywhere.  They were already filling up the third parking area.  We drove in closer and my husband dropped dad and me off.  He went to park the car.  Then we worked our way through the process for picking up the stone and carrying it to a registration area.  They gave us a clipboard with pages for any guests who would be coming to the ceremony.  The guests were to sign it and write anything they wanted to share about the veteran like their relationship and memories.  Then we carried the stone on to the next area to choose the spot in the walkway we wanted.  They were laying 21 stones that day.  Next we took the stone to a table, set up our lawn chairs and waited.  The process was a little disorganized in my opinion, but we got the job done.

Dad holding his Legacy Stone.

Area prepared for the stones to be placed.

The  kids were so good.  It was a long day for them.

Soon it was time.  There is a replica of the Liberty Bell on the property.  They rang the bell and then the color guard marched to the area.  We all said the Pledge of Allegiance and a young twelve year old girl sang the National Anthem.  She was fantastic.  Then they took a vial of dirt from the spot and spread out a vial of dirt from the previous ceremony.  At this point each veteran with their friends and family were called up one group at a time.  They took photos of each group.  It would be too chaotic to have everyone take photos so they used volunteers to take the group photo.  After the photo, it was time for the veteran or their representative to place the stone.

The stone weighed 22 pounds so Dylan helped great grandpa hold it.  We were asked to put hands on each others shoulders.




The placing of the Legacy Stone.

As each family finished, they removed their lawn chairs to the outer perimeter.  They formed a circle.  At this time several people left, but we stayed for the entire ceremony.  There was another long wait while every family went through the placing process.  It was a good time to visit with those we hadn't seen in a long time.  My dad is almost 90 and he is still fortunate enough to have a younger brother and sister.  They both came with their families.

Dad with his sister Patricia and his brother Jeff.

When everyone was settled into the circle, they passed a microphone around with the vial of the earth gathered that day.  Anyone who wanted to say a few words was given the opportunity.  It was very emotional.  This was especially true for the Vietnam veterans.  They were finally given the honor they deserved and didn't receive back in the 1960's when they returned home.  Even my dad was put on a Dutch freighter when he had fulfilled his time in the service.  It took them a month to get home.  During his time on the freighter, the war was over.  He landed in San Francisco, somehow made his way to Fort Sheridan and was given his duffle bag and discharge papers.  It was up to him to find his way home.  My daughter and my brother in law spoke.  Even my grandson spoke saying how proud he was to be great grandpa's great grandson.  It was priceless.  Dad said a few words about how wonderful the day was and how overwhelmed he was with everything.  There were hundreds of people there.  I was not brave enough to speak.

Dad thanking everyone.  My sister recorded it for which I was grateful.

When everyone had spoken a lady suggested we all sing God Bless America.  Then they reversed the circle and everyone passed by shaking everyone's hand.  It was a perfect day in so many ways.  I am so grateful that my dad was still alive to enjoy it and he certainly did.