Remembering the price 
of freedom
Patriotism high at Memorial Day parade


 

By BRIAN HUBER - GM Today Staff

May 27, 2003

 

The crowd watches while members of the joint firing squad fire their rifles in honor of those who died while serving their country. The rifle salute was done during the Waukesha Allied Veterans Councilís Memorial Day program held Monday in Cutler Park.


 

WAUKESHA - 
As he sat at the corner of West Main Street and East Avenue watching the Memorial Day parade Monday, 8-year-old Michael Lufter wore a camouflage shirt and a very personal artifact.

Lufter wore the cap worn by his great-grandfather, Kurt Lufter, who served in the Army in World War I and was a pioneer commander of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post. The younger Lufter said it felt "good" to wear the cap and he was only too happy to do it.

His father, Richard, said it was his sonís way of honoring his grandfather. But he said also saw more pride evident among the parade watchers, which he said appeared to number more than in years past.

"Being more people, there is more meaning to it," he said. "Itís sad it had to take another war to bring out more people."

Julene Jaeckel, of Waukesha, said patriotism was the emotion of the day as more parade viewers carried flags or wore the red, white and blue, making the day more meaningful for all.

Jay Woodard, also of Waukesha, said watching the three high school marching bands added a lot to the Memorial Day experience.

"The North High School marching band was awesome," said Sally Werchowski.

"West was better," replied Dan Riesing.

Joseph V. Deloria Sr. holds photographs of his father, brother and himself, all veterans, as well as a newspaper clipping about Marine Sgt. Kirk Straseskie, during the Waukesha Allied Veterans Councilís Memorial Day program. Straseskie was the first Wisconsin resident to die in Iraq. Deloria, who served as a Marine, carried the clipping during the parade and said Straseskie deserved to be remembered during the dayís events.


 

The annual Memorial Day program at Cutler Park drew a healthy contingent of families and veterans, as well as re-enactors depicting Union soldiers of the Civil War. They gathered to remember their fallen comrades and others they never knew, but whose gifts are enjoyed today by all Americans.

"No words can adequately describe the valor of the men and women we honor today," said Brig. Gen. Andrew Schuster of the Army Reserve, the guest speaker at the program. "Thanks to Americaís noble soldiers, freedom endures."

Those soldiers include Marine Sgt. Kirk Straseskie, the Beaver Dam man who drowned while trying to rescue his comrades in a helicopter crash in Iraq last week. The 23-year-old will be buried Wednesday.

Those soldiers also include Slinger Marine Jason Whittling, 27, who was paralyzed in a car crash while en route to Kuwait. They are joined by Army Pfc. Danny Roberts, of Green Bay, who is receiving care in a veteransí hospital after stepping on a land mine, Schuster said.

Joseph V. Deloria, of Waukesha, carried a picture of Straseskie with him, to celebrate his sacrifice and remember the service of his father, Ralph, in Korea; his brother, William, in Vietnam; and his own service in Okinawa.

"He deserved to be here today," Deloria said of Straseskie.

John Margowski, Waukesha County veterans services director, said more than 200 county veterans have died since Memorial Day 2002, including one each from World War I and the first Gulf War, 156 from World War II, 32 from Korea, 23 from Vietnam and 17 peacetime veterans.

Larry Kotke, of Waukesha, participated in the parade with members of his Chapter 425 of the Vietnam Veterans of America. He said the program was "excellent," as usual. He said turnout has increased since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Museum hopes to keep
Cold War memory alive

WAUKESHA - A group in Waukesha wants to be sure the Cold Warís silent soldiers are not forgotten.

At Hillcrest Park, members of the Cold War Museum - Midwest Chapter held a picnic Monday on the former Nike missile silo site which was active during the 1960s and early 1970s. The group is negotiating with Waukesha to open a permanent museum at the site, but the next step is getting an inspection of the facility, said Chairman Chris Sturdevant.

Buildings on the site remain standing, and need to be preserved lest their lessons be lost to history, said Cold War Museum chapter Executive Director Werner Juretzko. He said sites like Hillcrest Park have as much to teach about U.S. history as places like Bunker Hill and Gettysburg.

"People have to keep in mind that on the bottom of the Atlantic Coast there were Russian Soviet subs with missiles that had targets written on them for places like Chicago and Kansas," Juretzko said. "It was more serious than they actually thought at that time. One of the defenses from those attacks was right here. It would be a shame to see someone turn it into an apartment."

New Berlin resident David Brouchoud was stationed at the site from 1967 to 1970, and said he "absolutely" hopes the city makes it a museum. He is a collector of military artifacts from 1944 through 1980 and a museum would be a perfect place to display them and keep that history alive, he said.

"Some of the other guys and I used to go to schools and give talks. The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders always had the best questions," he said. "They couldnít believe we had missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads right here in Waukesha. What they donít know and what is not taught in schools will knock your socks off."

Brian Huber can be reached at bhuber@conleynet.com.

 

 

 

 

 


This story appeared in the Waukesha Freeman on May 27, 2003.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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