Labor of Love
Veterans continue work on Freedom Park
By Holly Neumann
The Manawa Area Veterans Freedom Park committee recently gave a public presentation on how the project is progressing.
“There are a lot of people in the community that still don’t know what we are doing, so we figured this was the best way to get the word out,” said John Smith, mayor. “Hopefully this will help answer some of those questions.”
The park, located bheind the Sturm Memorial Library, will feature two sides; one for the memorial honoring area past and present service members, while the other side will be a family area.
“People often ask why it needs to be two sided,” said Smith. “We all know the sacrifices that our soldiers are making. They go off to basic training, and they get broke down. Then they get brought back up to be strong, to be soldiers. They are trained to survive, to fight, to bring everyone back home, while their loved ones are all at home. Therefore the family sacrifices as well.”
According to Smith, the families are equally as important.
“They have to be there to support their soldiers and let them know that everything is okay back home,” he said. “It allows our service men and women to do their jobs protecting this country. This is a long lasting tribute to all of them.”
The family area will contain a shelter house, pavilion, fishing docks, boating docks, splash pad and more.
“This will be a place for families to go to enjoy,” said Smith. “A bridge will join the two areas together. After playing at the park, visitors can walk across the bridge to look for their family members on the memorial wall.”
Smith went on to say that people have questioned the design.
The center piece of the memorial will have a pentagon pillar with an eagle on top.
“The pentagon will represent each of our individual branches of service and the purpose they serve” said Smith. “It will include their logo and motto. The meaning behind the shape is that when all the branches come together, they become the strongest force in the world.”
Near the top, an American Flag will be etched in and an eagle will top it off.
“It will be a sign of embracing our military with protection,” Smith said. “The Eagle is 31 inches from the beak to tail and has a 48 inch wing span, representing the watchful eye of protection our military provides. It presents the strength of our military and the pride we carry in our hearts for those protecting us.”
Black granite walls with red granite bases will hold the names of area service men and women.
“The black walls shows the pride in our military. Its bolds and stands out just like our military stands proud against other forces,” said Smith. “The red bases presents the courage, bloodshed and sacrifices.”
Flags will also fly for each branch of service, in addition to the American and POW/MIA flags.
One major difference at the Manawa Area Veterans Freedom Park in comparison to others is that current service members will be on the wall as well.
“No one else has this feature as far as we know,” said Smith. “We want our young men and women to know that past sacrifices do not out-weigh the sacrifices of those serving today.”
The park broke ground on December 16, 2016 and is making more and more progress as time goes on.
“This has not been easy. But in the next few months you should see almost weekly improvements down there,” said Smith. “We are a small community with limited resources. We have done fundraisers. Some people have even done some of their own. This has truly been a community project.”
Smith noted two of the most recent contributions to the park.
Koble Windows and Doors donated just more than $8,000 to the cause.
“Kolbe was celebrating our 20th anniversary along with the grand opening of our newly expanded plant,” said plant manager Mark Harger. “The committee that was organizing the open house event felt strongly that we should combine this event with a community project.”
Monies raised came from three sources; Kolbe Windows and Doors, various suppliers that sell materials and equipment to Kolbe Windows and Doors, along with a raffle conducted during the open house.
“We researched a couple different causes but the Freedom Park stood out as something we could have a positive impact on,” Harger said. “John Smith was invited to our planning meetings and shared the details of the park and also the emotional connection that military families and those who served experience together. We got excited because it is a big city park being built in our small town community without tax payer dollars. The team at Kolbe Windows and Doors is excited to do our small part to help make the Manawa Area Veterans Freedom Park a reality.”
In addition, Shadows on the Wolf will be building and donating all the supplies for the all-abilities accessible fishing dock.
“I cannot even put into words how grateful we are for these donations. This has truly been a community effort,” Smith said. “We will not fail, this is too important to our community. This might just be the most beautiful Veterans Park in the state.”
The hope is that the park will be dedicated on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2017.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to this project can mail them to PO Box 247, Manawa, WI 54949.