New Vietnam War memorial dedicated in La Crosse

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 4:15 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - The La Crosse community is honoring those who gave their lives during the Vietnam War.

A memorial listing the names of every Wisconsinite killed during the conflict has been built in Veterans Freedom Park, joining a handful of other monuments recognizing the efforts of men and women that served in the military.

The Vietnam War Memorial was the brainchild of Holmen resident Jordan Briskey, who first came up with the idea back in 2016.

“It started out, not as an Eagle Scout project, not an exit school project, it’s something that a 15-year-old kid decided he wanted to do,” Briskey recalled.

After discovering La Crosse didn’t have a memorial honoring Vietnam veterans, Briskey worked with the La Crosse Parks and Rec Department to plan the project out.

After years of fundraising throughout the La Crosse area, the memorial was about to come to fruition before the pandemic hit in 2020.

The impacts of the pandemic caused the project to be delayed, but six years after Briskey’s original idea, the memorial is finally a reality.

A dedication ceremony held Thursday featured remarks from a pair of area Vietnam veterans, including Jim Crigler of Winona, who says it’s important to recognize the sacrifice that each person on the memorial made.

“Whether they served in combat or not, they all took an oath, an oath to protect our freedoms,” Crigler expressed. “They all followed orders up to, and including, their death, and there’s 1,239 of them listed from Wisconsin on this wall.”

Briskey hopes the memorial provides comfort for those who lost loved ones in battle.

“I think it’s important that the veterans and the families actually feel connected,” Briskey said. “I met a Gold Star mother, and many other Gold Star families, and they feel connected with that name, and I think it’s important that we pay tribute to those veterans that paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Vitetnam veteran Don Weber is proud to see a young man like Briskey take on such a meaningful project, and hopes others follow the same lead.

“Doing something for the greater good, to me, that’s what life’s all about,” Weber said. “This is for the greater good, and we’ll never forget, and we need to encourage more and more young people to serve.”

The memorial broke ground in May of last year, and Briskey says the project cost around $250,000 to put together.

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