A special Memorial Day tribute took place on May 29 at Milwaukee’s Veterans Park, where the Milwaukee War Memorial Center hosted its 4th Annual Field of Flags.

This year the event featured 15,015 U.S. flags, each representing a Wisconsinite who was killed in action (KIA) since World War I. The ceremony also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the return of Prisoners of War (POWs) and those Missing in Action (MIA) from North Vietnam prisons.

The idea behind the Field of Flags serves as a visual reminder of the sacrifices made by servicemen and women. Since it began in 2020, the flags have been planted next to the Vietnam War Memorial in Veterans Park for the display.

The Milwaukee War Memorial Center enlisted hundreds of volunteers to place the flags throughout the week of May 22. The flags were fully in place by the evening of May 26 and would remain until June 6, marking the World War II anniversary of D-Day in 1944.

In addition to the Field of Flags, this year’s ceremony introduced a new exhibit listing the names of Wisconsin’s unaccounted-for MIA since World War I. The exhibit aimed to honor those whose fates remain unknown, and offered a space for reflection and remembrance. The display was positioned prominently in Veterans Park, adjacent to the sea of flags.

The Memorial Day ceremony at Veterans Park drew a significant crowd, including veterans, active-duty military personnel, families of the fallen, and members of the community. The event featured speeches from military officials and local dignitaries, moments of silence, and the playing of “Taps,” a bugle call that signifies the end of the day and honors those who have perished.

The 2023 ceremony showed the community’s commitment to never forget the sacrifices local Milwaukee families have made for freedom since Wisconsin was founded as a state.

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Lee Matz