Saturday, May 19, was the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Across The Pond Veterans Park. Located just west of Iron River, Wisconsin, the park will have a Memorial to our veterans, a tranquil area to sit and look at the beautiful Iron River flowage, and later on, an RV and camping area will be built, with indoor facilities, a pavilion for public use, and walking trails, all open to the public. The ceremony to introduce the park was held at the Iron River Community Center, attended by more than 100 veterans, their families, supporters and a number of dignitaries, including U.S. Representative Sean Duffy, State Representative Beth Meyers, and State Senator Janet Bewley. Democratic candidate Brian Ewert, and republican candidate James Bolen were also in attendance.
After posting of colors, the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, the program began with Steve Probst, Town of Iron River Chairman, welcoming everyone, saying: “This park is going to be great for our community. This is going to be great for the future”. The program included Major John Plaster, retired, giving a speech honoring those veterans from this area that had lost their lives during wars from years past. Each branch of the armed services and members were recognized with music by Ray Levine and enthusiasm from the audience!
U.S. Representative Sean Duffy said, “It’s amazing what can be accomplished when a community comes together to create a living park to pay tribute to our veterans”. Senator Janet Bewley added, “The time has come to honor our veterans in a living and wonderful, celebratory way”. Wally Oberman spoke about the Wisconsin Honor Flight, encouraging all vets to sign up to experience the “flight of a lifetime for veterans”. A digital presentation was given with details of the park, including a rendering of the memorial itself, how the plans began and the path taken to this groundbreaking.
Two television stations showed up to document this momentous occasion, WDIO Channel 10, and KBJR Channel 6, of Duluth, MN. Both stations aired stories about our park on their evening news that night, which caused a lot of delight for the ATP board members! After a delicious lunch, provided mostly by donations, a crowd went out to the park for the actual groundbreaking. The honor guard was there, several of the dignitaries braved the cold, and a good crowd of spectators cheered Ray Kangas, Chairman of the Across The Pond Veterans Park board, as he threw that shovelful of dirt! Ray said: “The emphasis is not so much on the Memorial but on rehabilitation for our wounded warriors, coming back from conflicts and wars today. Everyone is welcome, military or not”.