Memorial becomes first in Wisconsin to honor mothers who lost a child in combat

Published: Sep. 27, 2020 at 8:11 PM CDT
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ROTHSCHILD, Wis. (WSAW) - Sunday, members of American Legion Post 492 are unveiling a statue honoring Gold Star mothers, those who have lost a child a in combat.

This statue is the first of its kind in Wisconsin and one of only a few in the U.S. Gold Star families say the memorial will bring peace to them after a tough loss, honoring the sacrifice a family makes when a loved one dies in combat.

“It’s a club you don’t want to belong to,” said Joan Uhl.

Uhl of Amherst joined that club when her son Eugene was killed in action. He was proud to serve and had wanted to do so since he was two years old, she said. He was just 21 when he was killed.

“When Eugene died, it was a big part of me that died,” Uhl said.

This memorial is a monument to the special bond a mother has with her child, and the loss a family experiences when a member of the military does not get to come home.

“He was just a happy-go-lucky guy, really popular in school. I don’t think you ever get over it,” Uhl said.

The unveiling is the culmination of a 15-year effort by Chairman Joe Kelbley and American Legion Post 492. The statue, by an artist in Philadelphia, depicts a mother receiving the news her child has died.

It’s a moment Kaye Olson knows all too well. Her son Andy Stevens was killed in Iraq.

“I am very proud of my son. He had served 9 years in the Marine Corps before he was killed. He believed in what he was doing,” Olson said. “That helps me be able to talk about it like this.”

As president of Wisconsin Gold Star Mothers, and as a veteran herself, she’s now there for others getting that call.

“That’s really hard to help those families heal. It’s a real challenge, but we’re there. Being around the Gold Star mothers is a very healing process,” she said.

Speakers included Rep. Pat Snyder and Congressman Tom Tiffany.

On speaker noted that we may never be able to repay these mothers for their sacrifice, but we can get a good start by making sure they aren’t forgotten.

“Somebody is doing something to honor them, and that’s the great part,” said Olson.

The statue will now sit permanently next to Rothschild Village Hall.

Copyright 2020 WSAW. All rights reserved.

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