'Bootprint' Gulf tribute marching forward at The Highground

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NEILLSVILLE, Wis. (WEAU) - After five years of planning, a veterans’ memorial is finally taking shape.

“The Bootprint” Wisconsin Persian Gulf Tribute had cement poured in its center Wednesday.

John Myers of Eau Claire said he comes to help out at The High Ground Veterans Memorial Park in Neillsville about once a week.

“We all try to make it possible that all veterans coming home feel welcome,” Myers said.

The Vietnam veteran said when he came home from being deployed in 1970, there was no warm welcome.

“We went and served our country, and don't have to be treated like heroes but a little bit more respect would have been nice back then.”

He said years later, the Vietnam vets finally got the recognition they deserved, and with millions returning from war since Desert Storm, it's time to honor them.

“We have dedicated a lot of time and energy to ensure to tell their story and give them a place. As the guys have told us from Vietnam and Korea, that's what's important. We need a place. And these guys need a place,” The High Ground Volunteer General Manager Kirk Rodman said.

He said the Persian Gulf Tribute is being built as a teaching tool and a place for healing, and vets there said at 80 feet long, it fits just right.

“(Persian Gulf veterans are) very excited about this that somebody's recognizing them,” Rodman said. “This is to remind people of what we left there and what we went to do and how we were involved.”

“(Veterans are) coming back with a broken psyche or missing arm or leg. Those dreams that they had now have to be adjusted so they can do what they want to do. This is a way that we as individuals can take and honor them and show them that we care.”

Rodman said The High Ground still needs to raise about $175,000 to add statues to complete the tribute, but volunteers hope to do so within the next two years. For information on how to help, see the link below.

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