Work is underway on the new Veterans Eternal Flame Memorial at the Dunn County Government Center.
The original Eternal Flame was placed over fifty years ago on the north side of what at the time was the Dunn County Courthouse. Back in 1970, the Veterans organizations of Dunn County were inspired by the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame presidential memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. So, they decided to place an eternal flame in Menomonie to commemorate Dunn County Veterans who served in our nation’s wars. That original monument was dedicated in July of 1971.
In the early 1980s, the Eternal Flame was extinguished and replaced with an electrical fixture due to the energy crunch. In 1996 a new chalice was created, and the flame was lit again. The Eternal Flame was rededicated on Veterans Day in 1996.
With the last of the county offices moving to the recently remodeled building at 3001 US Hwy 12, the Dunn County Veteran Service Office, the American Legion, and VFW Post 1039 accepted the responsibility to relocate and dedicate the Dunn County Eternal Flame Memorial. They have worked together to plan and raise funds to make the memorial a reality.
“We felt it was important to maintain the historical significance behind the memorial and honor the work of those that put so much effort into the original one,” said Greg Quinn, Dunn County Veterans Service Officer. “It serves as a welcome sign to those visiting the building and shows that Dunn County appreciates and supports our Veterans.”
The first step in the project, a cement pad with a gold star in the center, was completed this summer. Inside the star will be a five-sided granite monument with the official emblem of each branch of the military - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. At each point of the star will be a granite bench. Rather than an actual flame, a flame sculpture will be placed at the top of the monument. In addition, the placard from the original monument will be placed at the base of the US flag near the new memorial.
“The decision was made to use a simulated flame,” said Marlin Severson, Adjutant/Quartermaster of VFW Post 1039 and the project’s treasurer. “It’s too costly, and the maintenance fees are too high to do gas or electric, especially in this day and age.”
Work on the memorial will resume in the spring.
“The granite benches have been ordered and should be installed next spring,” said Quinn. “After that, we will finalize the center monument. Unfortunately, the granite price has fluctuated quite a bit and may affect the project’s final cost.”
The estimated cost of the project is $41,000. The group has been busy raising funds since the beginning of 2021, and while they have met their goal, they are still accepting donations.
“We have raised enough funds to cover the estimated costs but would like to have a reserve fund to cover any future maintenance that will be needed and any price increases for the remaining materials,” said Severson.
A dedication ceremony will be scheduled once the memorial is complete.
Donations (checks payable to Veterans Eternal Flame Memorial) can be sent to:
Veterans Eternal Flame Memorial
℅ Marlin W. Severson
3014 Wilson Street, Lot 201
Menomonie, WI 54751
Donations can also be dropped off at the Dunn County Veterans Service Office, 3001 US Hwy 12 E, Suite 116, Menomonie.