For some the Memorial Day weekend – marks the kickoff to the summer season. But for two veterans – it’s a time to place crosses, to honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.
On the grounds of Fort Howard Cemetery – two veterans prepare to honor 126 fallen heroes from Wisconsin.
“Kids from the state of Wisconsin that have lost their life in either Afghanistan or Iraq,” said John Havey.
For the last four years, Ron Bredael and John Havey have made it their mission to place crosses at very public locations. Each one carrying the name and rank of a service member killed in action. A tribute to valor and sacrifice; a very public reminder of the real reason for Memorial Day.
“We kind of wanted to create our own memorial for Memorial Day,” said Havey.
“We want people to understand that there’s more associated with Memorial Day then going up north, eating brats and drinking beer,” said Bredael, a veteran of the Air Force.
That’s something understood at Bayport High School – where a memorial dedicated to Isaiah Hunt and Justin Ross stands. The two graduates of the high school both served in the Army – and later died in combat in the Middle East.
Their deaths are in part of the reason why teacher Mike Phillips and his students have made all the crosses used in this effort the past four years.
“It is a personal project, I do it because it makes me feel good,” said Phillips.
Those first crosses were made pf pressed wood and started to wear. This year Bayport students designed metal crosses for placement during Memorial Day weekend – students like Wade Flavion.
“I thought it would be such a cool thing to help people who served for Memorial Day,” Flavion said.
And while placing a cross may seem a small gesture – it is a powerful symbol of the lives cut short – something these two veterans hope you’ll never forget.
“We can all find something wrong in our lives but when you look at these 126 crosses you can tell who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Bredael.