Milwaukee’s Veterans Park featured more than 27,000 American flags for the annual Memorial Day weekend tribute, representing every Wisconsin resident who has died in service to their country from the Civil War onward.

Just in time for the 5th Annual Memorial Day Field of Flags opening ceremony on May 24, volunteers finished planting the last of the 27,316 American flags along the coast of Lake Michigan.

“This Field of Flags will broadcast a powerful and visible reminder every Memorial Day of the burden of war carried by the men and women who wear the uniform. Behind each flag is a fallen hero from Wisconsin and the thousands of families and loved ones who carry on their legacy,” said Dan Buttery, President and CEO of the War Memorial Center. “I was inspired to bring this concept to Milwaukee after seeing a Field of Flags in Boston displayed for Memorial Day.”

Buttery said he was inspired to bring the Memorial Day weekend flag display to Milwaukee after he witnessed a similar display of Old Glory in Boston years ago.

This year’s display had nearly twice the number of flags as last year, when 15,015 flags were displayed representing all Wisconsin residents killed in action since World War I.

“For five years, we have been working toward the goal of a Field of Flags to honor every Wisconsinite killed in action since the Civil War,” said Buttery.

The 27,316 flags, each representing a fallen hero, were divided into the following categories:

  • Civil War: 12,301
  • World War I: 3,976
  • World War II: 8,390
  • Korean War: 801
  • • Vietnam: 1,161
  • • Gulf War and Global War on Terror: 64
  • • Peacetime: 623

The Southeast Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Memorial, dedicated October 20, 1991, is the first memorial erected in Milwaukee County’s Veterans Park. Its unique design of the three Wausau Red Granite Columns, standing 22, 26, and 30 feet each, represent those Killed in Action, P.O.W.s/M.I.A.s, and those Returned Home.

Five granite benches located behind the columns symbolize the five branches of military service. Encircling the memorial are 11 granite posts signifying each officially recognized year of the Vietnam War. The construction of the memorial was funded completely by private dollars.

“The maintenance of the memorial is funded solely by the sale of bricks,” said Buttery. “We owe a great deal of appreciation to those who have supported us through the purchase of bricks and especially those who had the vision that Milwaukee needed this memorial and that this is the site where it needed to be.”

The inner circle of the memorial is reserved for those who served in the Vietnam War. These bricks are purchased by Vietnam Veterans themselves, their family, or friends.

The bricks on the outer circle can be purchased by veterans of other wars and conflicts, and by citizens who want to show their respect for veterans, or to simply support the memorial. At the ceremony this year, 14 new names were added.

  • COL, Mary Ann Blaubach (USAF 1968 – 1988)
  • PVT, Earl T. Brooks (U.S. Army 1943 – 1946)
  • SFC, Edward Mack Brooks (USAR 1959 – 1996)
  • PVT E1, George C Butler (USMC 1958 – 1961)
  • MSGT, Case Jacobs (USAF 1996 – 2021)
  • CPL, Joseph Leitl (USMC 1975 – 1978)
  • PVT E1, Howard Mukoyam (USMC 1958 – 1961)
  • Scott A. Oldenburg
  • SGT, Keith Allan Rachoner (USMC 1964 – 1968)
  • Christopher Schick
  • PFC, Donale Strow (U.S. Army 1953 – 1955)
  • SGT, Kristian Vaughn (USMC 1975 – 1979)
  • SGT EA, Bruce A. Weinkauf (USAF 1967 – 1971)
  • SPS, Gregory West (U.S. Army 1968 – 1971)

“We gather to dedicate the bricks which were recently installed,” added Buttery. “Family members and friends of those honored are present with us.”