Veterans memorial planned in Rice Lake
Members of the Duluth Honor Guard are working with city officials to create a statue and grounds to honor veterans.
RICE LAKE — For a few years, retired Command Sgt. Maj. John Werner has had the vision for a memorial for U.S. veterans at the corner of Rice Lake and Martin roads.
Werner, the mayor of Rice Lake, shared this vision with John Marshall, captain of the Duluth Honor Guard, and Bob Quaid, fellow Honor Guard member and member of the Rice Lake City Council. Marshall and Quaid announced their proposal to the public Tuesday during a news conference.
"He said, 'I've got this vision and I need your help to make this happen,'" Marshall said. "John is someone who epitomizes patriotism like no other. He's pretty sick right now, so he couldn't be here, but we're asking people to help us make this vision come true."
The vision consists of a memorial that honors the burden of veterans from every war and features a bronze sculpture of a paratrooper kneeling after landing in Afghanistan.
"If you look at the actual photograph of this soldier, you'll see him kneeling, recovering from a blow, just getting his wind back," Marshall said. "It's important symbolism. It's the weight of 120 pounds in gear packed on his back and that's also the weight that we carry as soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines for our nation and our interests. It's a lifelong burden."
Currently, the vision can be seen in the form of a rendering created by concept illustrator Tim Cortes. He has worked as a illustrator for 30 years, mostly in the sports realm, but wanted to get involved with the project to "help bring the vision to life," he said. A print version of Cortes' rendering of "The Burden" will be given to high donors.
Artist Tim Cleary has been commissioned to create the bronze sculpture of the kneeling paratrooper. Cleary is a professor of visual arts at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He sculpted veteran statues at the Duluth International Airport: one of Tuskegee Airman Joe Gomer and one of pilot David Wheat, a prisoner of war.
"I feel like there needs to be more awareness of our veterans in our community," Cleary said. "I have a lot of veterans in my family who did some pretty heroic things. I want to see the community take up support for our vets."
Marshall estimated that the entire project would cost approximately $150,000-$200,000. The sculpture alone will cost around $75,000.
"And that's not including the benches and pathways," Marshall said Tuesday. "But we also have about $60,000 in donations and pledges, including the county who graciously donated $20,000 this morning. But we'll be doing fundraising events, so be on the lookout for that. We'll need the community's help to make this happen."
To donate to the project, send checks or money orders to Duluth Honor Guard, memo "Rice Lake Memorial Park," 5814 Grand Ave., Duluth MN, 55807.