- A new traveling tribute to Wisconsin's fallen soldiers was unveiled last month in Madison, and now it's made its first tour stop in Minocqua.
Since the September 11th attacks, 127 Wisconsin soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 'Remembering our Fallen' memorial puts a name and face to each and every one.
"This gives an opportunity to see them in a different light, instead of just seeing them in uniform," said Brian Jopek, a veteran of the Iraq war. Jopek’s son, Ryan, is also among the fallen soldiers in the memorial.
What makes the traveling portrait wall so special are the personal touches, including snapshots of the soldiers with family and friends, and handwritten notes from the people who love them.
"When I first saw it, it took my breath away,” said Wendy Hull, a key organizer in bringing the display to Minocqua. “I was asking myself what is it about this that's so different. And it's the pictures, it's the personal side of it. Seeing them with their families... and it makes you remember, that they're somebody's son, somebody's daughter, somebody's daddy.”
The display in Minocqua's Campanille center is open for visitors to come and reflect, and feel a personal connection to each soldier.
“You're not just seeing the names, you're seeing the faces, and I think that provides an automatic connection, because a lot of the pictures they have on this, they're looking right at you," says Jopek.
Looking into the faces of the fallen gives a new appreciation for life, and a new respect for their sacrifice.
"We don't want people to come in here and be sad… As a former soldier I'd like to see people be grateful for the sacrifice that not only these troops made, but for their families as well."
The memorial also serves as a reminder of the men and women who continue to fight.
“It's just an important thing, we get caught up in our lives, and caught up in the news and politics and all this other stuff and you forget that these guys are still over there," said Hull.
The memorial is open to viewers now through Sunday the 19th, between 11 am and 5pm. On Wednesday and Friday the memorial will be open until 7pm.