Remembering the fallen: La Crosse memorial honors Wisconsin residents killed in Vietnam War

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — A new memorial in La Crosse honors all Wisconsin residents who were killed in the Vietnam War.

The memorial at Veterans Freedom Park was six years in the making, but families of fallen veterans say the impact it will have will last a lifetime.

It takes a great person to make a sacrifice and an even bigger person to make sure that sacrifice is never forgotten.

“This will last forever,” said Vivian Turner, a Gold Star mom.

In 2016, then 15 year-old Holmen High School student Jordan Briskey had an idea to honor fallen Vietnam veterans.

“Our veterans, and our troops, they pay the ultimate price for freedom,” said Briskey.

The ultimate price has a lasting effect on the families they leave behind.

“I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, I’ve done everything there is to do,” said Turner.

Her son, Michael B. Turner, was a graduate of Onalaska High School. He enlisted in the Vietnam war shortly after graduation. Michael was 19 when a sniper shot him as he led a patrol.

“He never knew what hit him. And I’m thankful for that. He didn’t suffer,” she said.

Her son’s memory lives on at the Wisconsin Vietnam Memorial.

“His name is on there,” Turner said, pointing to the memorial. “If I had my choice, I’d rather have him here.”

Along with her son’s memorial lives a part of Turner and every gold star mother.

“The gold star plaque is a poem I wrote many years ago,” Turner said.

Turner showed her poem to Briskey who asked for permission to display it on a plaque.

“And of course I gave him permission,” she said.

The plaque, the memorial, are all part of the sacrifices families made 50 years ago. Sacrifices that have inspired future generations.

“You know, it doesn’t matter how old, how young, or how small or tall. You can achieve anything in this great country,” Briskey said.

While creating a bridge for one mother to her son.

“If he were here today, he’d say, ‘Mom, don’t cry. I don’t regret it,'” Turner said.

The memorial was made possible by several community donations. Tt cost around $250,000 to build.

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