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The dream of Wynot Area Veterans’ Memorial is becoming reality

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WYNOT — Considerable time and effort are needed in order to take a dream, and bring that dream to reality.

The idea needs to be developed, discussed with others, convincing them of its importance, decisions made on how to fund it, a location found, a design determined, the project then needs to be constructed and finally, the completion and dedication of the project.

In February 2016, two Wynot area men had a dream, to create a Veterans’ Memorial in Northeast Nebraska, one honoring all veterans.

Duane Bair formerly of Wynot and Jim Hans, Wynot, were the two like-minded individuals who started thinking about building an Area Veterans’ Memorial. 

They first took their idea to the Wynot American Legion members to hear their thoughts on it. 

Their idea was to create a beautiful northeast Nebraska veteran’s memorial, one that would honor all members of all branches of service no matter what branch they served in, the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, National Guard, Reservists, and Coast Guard. It did not matter where they served, where they were from, as they wanted a memorial to honor “ALL” veterans.

After meeting with the Legion and they're agreeing to assist with the memorial, fundraising began and with the help of the Boeckmans’ at Donna’s Diner in Wynot, the initial fundraiser kicked off with a Gun, Ice Auger, and cash raffle bringing in $3,600.

Bair and Hans knew they needed help with this endeavor. A committee was set up to educate and inform others about the area memorial, helping to raise funds and to help see the project through its completion.

Hans and Bair approached several area individuals, which included men and women, both veterans and non-veterans from Wynot, Hartington, Yankton (S.D.) and Hooper, asking them to become part of the committee. 

Accepting the challenge were Maurice and Nadene Ketter, Kathy Young, Larry Starman, Frederick Pinkelman, Karen Boeckman, Chuck Bonnertz, Dan and Karen Thoene, Matt Thoene, Derek Boeckman, and Gary Howey.

Using the Wynot Alumni Book, along with several church registries from the area, they created a mailing list and then the committee sent out letters to the parishioners and alumni, asking if they or family members were veterans and if they wanted to have names included on the memorial.

The response was overwhelming, with over 100 veteran’s names received shortly after the letters went out.

Committee members came together with other fundraising ideas, contacted area businesses, sold bricks and wrote grants.

Several area businesses donated work, materials, offered discounts on services, as well as cash donations, along with a large Community Investment Grant from TransCanada.

They had a committee, a list of the veterans’ names and funds in the bank, now, the main obstacle would be finding the perfect location, one that was highly visible and with easy access.

That is when the Norbert and Carol Krichmier Estate stepped forward, donating the land along the northwest side of St. James Avenue and East 4th Street, south of the Wynot Park.

Things were moving along quickly with additional fundraisers needed to begin construction at the site.

Additional fundraisers were held at Donna’s Diner, as a Wild Game Feed brought in $3,200. A  Fish Fry was also held. That was a huge success, as it brought in $4,000. Another Fish Fry added an additional $5,000 to the memorial’s coffers.

The committee made trips to several other veterans’ memorials, gathering ideas from each of them, putting those ideas together, creating their own unique designed memorial, one that would be a beautiful addition to northeast Nebraska, and honor all those who served our veterans. 

With the assistance of Luken Memorial, Yankton, there were several ideas and designs brought before the committee, discussion held on the project, suggested changes made, the project was approved and work began on the site’s center memorial.

Dave Stevens, Construction, Yankton, the contractor on the memorial begun putting in the concrete circle and sidewalks last summer, completing the concrete work and installation of the three flagpoles this fall.

S & D Masonry, Scott Fuchtman, Creighton, scheduled construction of the Sponsor/Donor curved wall in the spring of 2019.

As of this writing, the main circle, center memorial, sidewalks, flagpoles, water and electrical service installed along with the memorial lights, with the flagpoles and the center memorial illuminated in the near future.

The two-granite memorials with the veteran’s names engraved are the next step in the process, with the granite stones now in Yankton, waiting on the engraving. 

Currently, there are 242 veterans’ names from throughout the U.S. to go on the two granite memorials that will stand on either side of the center memorial.

If you have a veteran whose name you would like added to the memorial, space is still available, or if you would like your family, business or organization’s name on one of the bricks in the Sponsor/Donor brick wall, you can contact any of the committee members mentioned above for further information.

There will be on-going fundraisers held and donations accepted to complete future expansion of the memorial and to assist with the continuing upkeep and maintenance.

The official dedication of the Wynot Area Veteran’s Memorial, a large event, scheduled for June 8, 2019.


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