Post aims to encourage community to embrace veterans memorial with beautification project

Juneau, WI

In Juneau, Wisc., Post 15 is beginning to raise funds to add five service flags, a POW/MIA flag, flagpoles, benches, landscaping and a historical display case to the town's veterans memorial.

The memorial was dedicated in 2011, after community member Rein Couperus, who worked at a monument company, donated a life-size statue of a soldier to the city. Americans liberated Couperus' family from Nazi occupation in Holland, and later immigrated to the United States. The statue was a symbol of Couperus patriotism and gratitude, Legionnaire Dr. Robert D. Heinen said.

Then-Mayor Ron Bosak asked the Legion to help develop the monument into a memorial, Heinen said, which they did. It sits on the library lawn and an American flag flies above it.

But, in an effort to increase the community's awareness of the monument, as well as to beautify and help pay off lingering debt from the initial development, the post aims to raise about $25,000.

The new historical display case will detail the Couperus family story, and list donors.

"My philosophy is that if you live in a community and take something out, you ought to give something back," Heinen said.

To grow community interest in the project, Legionnaires will host an "open house" kickoff at the monument on Memorial Day 2016 to answer questions (after their regular program at a local long-term care facility). The goal, Heinen said, will be to host events there intermittently through 2019, with project culmination meeting the Legion's 100th birthday.

To further involve the community, the committee for the beautification of the monument has added resident Eileen Gratton.

"We're to serve our fellow man and our communities. What better way to get our veterans recognized than to have them active in the community in an active American Legion Post?" Heinen said.

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