The Lincoln County Veterans Memorial in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, USA

Pictures and text by Laurie Crofoot

The photographs on this page were taken by Laurie Crofoot in June 2007 and February 2008 or are taken from archives of American Legion Post 93, to whom I owe thanks for their helpful information on the Memorial Project.

The Lincoln County Veterans Memorial is located on the south bank of the Wisconsin River in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. It is the focal point of a park designated as Memorial Park in 1955.
The Memorial was originally conceived in the early 1980's as a tribute to Vietnam Veterans, but the concept expanded to become a permanent memorial to all Lincoln County Veterans, living and dead, who served in the United States military during the World War One, World War Two, Korean, and Vietnam War eras. Tomahawk's Memorial Park was chosen as the site for the future Memorial, and fundraising was begun by a Committee representing several Veterans of Foreign War and American Legion Posts. The Committee settled on a design submitted by Mary Ingman Herman, daughter of Tomahawk native Einar Ingman, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient for his Korean War service. The final design of the site focused on a slab of Dakota Mahogany granite eight feet tall and five feet wide, engraved with the famous quote from President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: "We take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion."
The total cost of the Memorial, $15,000, was raised entirely through private donations; and dedication of the new Memorial was held May 28, 1986.
It was nearly twenty years later that additions were proposed to the existing Memorial. Once again, Mary Ingman Herman's design skills were called upon. A black plaque honouring the five branches of our armed forces - the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard - was added to the existing slab. The second part of the expansion consisted of two "wings", mahogany granite slabs inset with polished black granite incised with the names of additional conflicts. The final and ongoing phase of the project consists of paving the WalkWay to the Memorial with tribute stones. The expansion of the Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day, 2006; and the site, with its backdrop of tall pines and flags, continues to serve as the location for Memorial Day and Veteran's Day services in Lincoln County.

Analysis: There are several facets of this Memorial that drew my interest. The first facet, and most interesting to me, is the idea that the designer is the oldest child of a man who is a true military hero. Mary of course grew up knowing the history of the scars her father carries on his face, as did most people in the area. She would have understood through him the meaning of the word "sacrifice", which may have played a part in why her design was chosen over others submitted. Mary Herman's original design is simple, somewhat resembling a tombstone although it is stated in a descriptive flyer that the Memorial is intended to "pay tribute to the dead and honor the survivors". Her inclusion of benches flanking the Memorial invite a viewer to sit to contemplate the second facet of the Memorial that I found interesting, the quote engraved upon it.

Lincoln County, the site of this Memorial, was named for Abraham Lincoln when it was created by the Wisconsin legislature in 1874. The quote "We take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion" is taken from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, which is in itself a memorial. The next line of the speech is "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain", which is certainly a fitting phrase for the site of a Memorial.

Another very interesting aspect of this particular Memorial is how it, like many others, began as a memorial to one war, but later expanded to include other conflicts, some not considered "wars" in the traditional sense ,but all conflicts which have affected members of US armed services. This memorial was originally conceived around 1983 to honor Vietnam Veterans, who until the early 80's may have seemed somewhat neglected. At the end of the Vietnam conflict, the country seemed to want to forget rather than to memorialize it in any way, but this changed in 1982 with the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. The initial impetus to, and focus of, the Lincoln County Veterans' Memorial quickly expanded to include the First and Second World Wars, and the Korean War as well. The expansion of the Memorial twenty years later has included other wars which have or may have included participants from Lincoln County. These include the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the Cold War, Lebanon Peacekeeping, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, Somalia, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. We can only hope that our increased "devotion to their cause" may one day mean that there are no more conflicts to add to this Memorial.


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