Veterans connect during a hard year

The Highground: A Safe Place To Be


One Wisconsin town has become a special place of memory and healing for many Wisconsin veterans, including Bruce Canny, pictured above.  Neillsville, in central Wisconsin, is home to The Highground Veterans Memorial Park, founded in the 1980s by a Vietnam veteran in fulfillment of a battlefield promise.

The Highground is not the typical war memorial. Unaffiliated with any state or federal agency, this 155-acre park built by veterans speaks for and honors the full range of experiences of and perspectives on war. As a gradually evolving project with no single preconceived plan, it has come to include individual memorials to most of the major wars fought by this country with tributes, as well, to women veterans, to families of veterans, and to Native American Vietnam veterans.  It is perhaps the fact that The Highground strives to be open and staffed day and night, every day of the year, that best captures the nature of the community that has collected around it, and their commitment to making it a place of healing.  Veterans gather regularly for events, and come from considerable distances for a few days or even weeks at a time to help staff the facility, encourage visitors to ring the replica Liberty Bell, walk the miles of trails that include a handicapped accessible tree house, or go to the Learning Center for programs.

"This year, even with all the COVID stuff, being out at The Highground is just relaxing; it's comforting. It's almost like a safe place. If you understand, no explanation is necessary—if you don’t understand, no explanation is possible." That's how Skip Klabon from Colby, Wisconsin explained it in his words shared on Love Wisconsin this week.

Wisconsin Humanities has been proud to support The Highground with several grants over the years. Currently on view through November 29th at the Highground is an
exhibit called "We Were There Korea," funded in part by a WH Major Grant. Learn more about our seven grant deadlines every year here.


I felt so young

I felt so old

I felt so hot

I felt so cold

sometimes wet

sometimes dry

still can hear

the choppers fly

a weapon fires

someone cries

some would live

some would die

the still of night

till cannons roar

know mighty trees

to jungle floor

the smell of life

the smell of death

a newborn baby

draws first breath

it don't mean nothin' *

but that's a lie

now there's time

to stop and cry

take the hill

let it go

I still ask why

do any know

©️2016 Clyde B. Canny (Bruce), who proudly served with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment "Blackhorse" in Vietnam 1968-1969 and used with permission by Wisconsin Humanities.

** This expression was commonly used to defer painful reactions to battlefield experiences to a time when they could safely be processed. Unfortunately for some, that time has yet to come.

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