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National Native American Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art ()
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Located in Neillsville, Wisconsin at the Highground memorial park, the National Native American Vietnam Veterans Memorial stands to honor the heroes that fought and died for their country and proudly represented their tribes in the call to arms. 232 Natives of the contiguous U.S. and Alaska gave their lives in the brutal jungle war against communism, and thousands of others joined and served valiantly despite ill support and much protest and strain in the United States at the time. Open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, the monument serves to honor the sacrifice of these brave citizens of the tribal nations day and night. Each and every detail of the statue and large monument it stands upon symbolizes the sacrifice and ordeals of those that suffered and died in the campaign so far from home.

Dedicated on September 16, 1995 to honor the bravery and sacrifice of the Native Americans that served and lost their lives in the Vietnam War
Plaque describing the elements of the monument and what each aspect symbolizes.
View from the front of the monument, showing the soldier with an M16 rifle and planting an eagle feather staff
Up close view of the Warrior fighting for his country and his heritage
Aerial photo of the entire monument also showing the flags of the United States and a Native American tribe
Beautiful photo of the monument at night

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     The time had come for a monument of their own. A national monument was to be created to honor the "Forgotten Heroes." Native Americans had, in wars prior, stepped up to the plate,having the highest percentage of enlisted men compared to other ethnic groups, and Vietnam was no exception. Over forty-two thousand served in Southeast Asia during the campaign from 1957 to 1975, and 232 brave souls sacrificed all they could for their country and their heritage. In 1994, the Congress of Native American Indians decided a national monument was to be placed in Neillsville, Wisconsin. One year later, on September 16, 1995, the monument was opened and dedicated to honor those Native American men who sacrificed so much. 
     The sculpture was created by Harry Whitehorse, and as can be seen from the photographs, depicts a Native American soldier, or warrior, composed of bronze. In his right hand is the most prominent and important rifle of the Vietnam War, the M16. In his left hand he plants a staff of eagle feathers, very symbolic of their role and proud heritage in America. The sculpture stands atop a large red granite stone, weighing approximately ten tons. Its role in the monument is to speak of the violence, suffering, and massive sacrifice made. The white quartz also has meaning, depicting purity of the souls who gave their lives, and the four corners show that they did not avoid the situation, but rather sought to tackle the problem head on. 
     The entire monument is lined on the outside with black granite slabs, and the information they contain is perhaps what is most important in honoring the men. One slab aids in understanding the purpose of the objects and imagery, describing what each aspect of the monument represents. Another slab describes the purpose of creating the monument, which is to honor those men that died and fought in such an unfavorable war. But the others contain a more personal and perhaps heartfelt touch. There you will find the names of all the Native American men that fought and died in Vietnam, as well as where they called home, the day they died, and also how they met their end in such a terrible war. Their tribal affiliation is to be completed soon as well. But this information serves to specifically honor each man that left behind all they knew and loved to never return home. It speaks volumes to their bravery and actions. 
     Behind the monument stands two flags. To the right one can see the stars and stripes. In fact, there are several surrounding the monument. But, flying to its left is a different flag each day. The purpose of this is to further honor the role of Native American tribes around the country in their fight for bravery and heritage. Each flag is the flag of a different Native American tribe in North America, each taking its turn when its day comes, showing a proud heritage and unity among tribes in their roles in the country and their willingness to defend their homeland, just as their ancestors would have done. 
     The monument is open twenty-four hours a day. At night, the display can even be more honoring, as the base lights along the walls shine up to the rock and soldier, showing acknowledgment and respect even as darkness falls upon the surrounding land. Admission is free to reach the monument, and from April through October, volunteers are available for more information and tours. 

Sources

Adams, Barry, and Associated Press. “The Highground Veterans Memorial Park Celebrates 30 Years.” Star Tribune, Star Tribune, 22 Sept. 2018, www.startribune.com/the-highground-veterans-memorial-park-celebrates-30-years/494024291/.

Highground's Native American Tribute Flags, www.wiclarkcountyhistory.org/pinevalley/highground/HiGrd_NativeAmericanTributeflags.htm.

“National Native American Vietnam Veterans Memorial Historical Marker.” Historical Marker, 16 June 2016, www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=29599.

“Native Americans in the Military Vietnam War (1959-75).” Forest County Potawatomi, 30 Nov. 2016, www.fcpotawatomi.com/news/native-americans-in-the-military-vietnam-war-1959-75/.

“The National Native American Vietnam Veterans Memorial – The Highground.” The Highground, www.thehighground.us/tributes_and_facilities/the-national-native-american-vietnam-veterans-memorial/.

Address
W7031 Ridge Road
Neillsville, Wisconsin 54456
Phone Number
715-743-4224
Hours
24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Tags
  • Military History
  • Native American History
This location was created on 2018-10-29 by Gregory Thompson .   It was last updated on 2018-11-01 by Gregory Thompson .

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