Mork raising funds for veterans monument
By Ben Rodgers
Area veterans who received medals in combat could soon have some extra recognition.
Lyle Mork is currently in the process of raising funds for the Walk of Honor Monument at the American Legion Sheveland-Taylor Post 14 Veterans Memorial Park.
“These people have received medals,” said the Post 14 member. “It’s everything from the Medal of Honor down through the Purple Heart.”
While Mork is the project organizer for this particular monument, he is also no stranger to raising the funds for similar projects.
Previously he raised $50,000 for a memorial to Gold Star, or fallen soldiers, as well as $30,000 for a memorial to all who have served from the area. Both are on display at the park.
This new project however will cost more than both combined – $110,000.
“It’s just honoring these people,” he said. “I just think it’s nice to honor them.”
Mork’s plans include a 39-foot long by 17-foot wide stretch that will feature two pedestals and at least two monuments. The monuments will be four-sided obelisks, each more than 6-feet tall. Each side of the obelisks will feature a different medal and a photo will be etched in the stone of each medal recipient. Each granite obelisk would weigh 14,000 pounds.
It will be for all veterans from the area from the Civil War to current conflicts.
On the top of the first obelisk will be an Old Abe statue, looking at visitors when they arrive.
Old Abe, a bald eagle, was the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. The eagle was held in such high praise that Civil War Generals Ulysses Grant, William T. Sherman, James McPherson and others would raise their hats when passing Old Abe.
The Navy veteran, Mork was a corpsman, has plenty experience with memorials like this one.
“We’ve had other veterans groups come over (to the park) and they’re interested in doing something similar to what we’re doing,” Mork said.
He isn’t surprised that other smaller communities are planning memorials.
“I just think because the communities are closely knitted together more, a lot of the people know these people personally, or their families,” Mork said.
Now comes the hard part, raising the $110,000 to complete the monument.
Mork will send 150 letters asking for donations.
Even though not one has hit the post office yet, he has already received his first donation.
“I haven’t even started yet and I have $1,500,” he said smiling.
If everything goes to plan, he wants to have the monument open for Flag Day, 2018.
Iola Village President Joel Elder said the cause is a worthy one, but the goal of raising $110,000 will be a challenge.
“It is a very noble cause that he is working on and we thank him for all his work,” Elder said. “I just don’t know how much more they can get for the veterans park in Iola. That’s where the rub is I think, because that’s a lot of money.”
He said the village will help, but the exact amount is unknown at this time.
“I wish him nothing but the best and we will as a village do what we can, but I’m not sure what that’s going to be,” Elder said. “We will know more after the next board meeting that’s coming up.”
Through research and contacts with other veterans Mork has some names, but he also wants to make sure everyone has a chance to be included.
The medals include the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross (also known as Navy Cross and Air Force Cross), Defense Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Soldiers Medal (also known as Navy/Marine Corps Medal and Airman’s Medal), Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Prisoner of War Medal.
So far Mork has more than 60 medal recipients on his list.
In order to be placed on the monument, a photo of the person to be honored in their military uniform along with the DD-214 discharge papers are required.
To help the American Legion reach the $110,000 goal, see Mork or any other American Legion member at the park or historical society on Memorial Day.
Donations can also be sent to Lyle Mork; c/o The American Legion; 295 Blaine Street; Iola, Wisconsin 54945. Make checks payable to The American Legion Post 14.