NEILLSVILLE, Wisc. (WEAU) - After years of planning, veterans and families gathered in Neillsville Saturday to break ground for the new Persian Gulf tribute at the Highground.
Dozens came to the Neillsville memorial to honor those who served in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I don't think there's any one easy way to honor anybody but I think that we're going to try to do the best we can to honor them and remember them," National Guard soldier Brandon Hensiak said.
"You had all the other wars and now we've got ours, and I guess I take ownership because I was in, and this is my memorial. But it's not just for the veterans," retired Navy Lt. Commander Paul Kokosz said.
"We lost a son in Iraq in 2005. Ever since that time, it's been a place of healing for me. And I enjoy coming here because it gives me piece of mind," Joel Brockman of Ripon said.
With the ground now broken, construction for the combat-boot shaped memorial can begin.
"Anybody who's been over there, wearing your combat boots, you know what it's like. So the print brings it home very simple," Kokosz said.
"The group hug coming or going, take your pick. Women in uniform. The thinker contemplating what he did ... It's all together in the one memorial."
"There's a lot of veterans out there that need a place that they can just call home to give them comfort too. So, it's not just about those who have sacrificed, everybody has sacrificed some," Brockman said.
"A person has to have a place to reflect on things. Public isn't always it." "We need to do anything we can to help people heal," Hensiak said.
The Highground is still collecting donations to help fund the project.