Veterans Determined to Get Memorial Built to Honor All Service Members

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

JANESVILLE, Iowa - Veterans in a town of less than a thousand residents are raising tens of thousands to get a memorial built.

"As you can see we're up to about $73,000 out of the $84,000," said Vietnam Veteran & Janesville Memorial Committee Member Thomas Brickman.

The memorial will be the first of its kind in Janesville. Members of the American Legion decided to start raising money for a Veteran's Memorial just last March.

The committee set a goal to break ground this spring. They said it was a bit of an ambitious goal that might not happen, but they made it.

"We're ecstatic about how everything has been going," said Vietnam Veteran & Janesville Memorial Committee Member Bill Bloker.

Crews plan to get started within the next few weeks to build a memorial by the Riviera Roose Community Center.

"We started out selling popcorn at garage sales, we had a garage sale," Blocker said.

"We had a chili and oyster supper," Brickman said.

"We had a huge, huge benefit just a week ago," Bloker added.

Bloker and Brickman are among the veterans leading the way. They said it all started last year with the new American Legion Commander at the time, Martin Woeste. He had a dream to get a memorial built in Janesville, but cancer prevented him from seeing that happen.

"I think it was the second month, and [he] said he got a clean bill of health from Iowa City," Blocker said. "The next month it was a matter of three weeks, and he was gone."

Now Martin's friends are carrying out his mission.

"He's smiling in heaven," Brickman said.

These Vietnam Veterans said the project is special for another reason too. It's a way to cope with the past.

"We've been spit at, yelled at, and it's just the way we were treated," Brickman said. "I hope that never ever happens to another soldier."

"I certainly don't want people to be treated that way now," Blocker said. "It's a healing process for me to do this."

The day the sign with a picture of the memorial gets replaced with the actual memorial, is a day that can't come soon enough for Janesville veterans

"I will probably shed a lot of tears of happiness," Brickman said.

The group plans to complete the Janesville Veterans Memorial by Veterans Day of this year. It will honor soldiers from every branch and from all over, not just Janesville. If anyone wants to buy a brick to hold a veteran's name or donate to the project, contact one of the Memorial Committee members:

Bill Bloker 987-2297
Tom Brickman 987-2523
Joe Kessel 987-8013
Bruce Henriksen 266-2010
Sue Stapleton 987-2307
Steve Gray 987-8170
Ben McAllister 987-2262
Renee Timion 987-2471
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