Traveling World War II Memorial honors Greatest Generation

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75 years ago, on Sept. 2, 1945, the United States received a formal surrender from the Japanese empire. That action officially ended World War II. To commemorate that anniversary, the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center made history of its own.

Far from our nation’s capital, Milwaukee’s lakefront provided the backdrop as officials shined a light on the sacrifice from the Greatest Generation.

Traveling World War II Memorial on Milwaukee’s lakefront

“This is the only traveling World War II Memorial in the United States,” said Dan Buttery of the War Memorial Center.

Milwaukee became the first Midwestern host of the Traveling World War II Memorial — and there were a handful of World War II veterans on hand to see it. 

“It’s a great memorial for everybody, you know? It’s just super,” said Barney Dearey, a World War II Army veteran.

Traveling World War II Memorial on Milwaukee’s lakefront

It may not be the permanent memorial, but its symbolism is not lost.

96-year-old Julian Plaster joined the Navy when he was just 19 years old. The sacrifice of his brothers is marked by gold stars on the wall.

“A couple of those fellas I got to know real good,” Plaster said. “I feel very sad about those that lost their lives. But I feel very proud to say that (gets emotional) I helped keep that flag flying high.”

Traveling World War II Memorial on Milwaukee’s lakefront

While the national battles a new war against the coronavirus pandemic, the War Memorial Center hopes its Operation Home Front exhibit can inspired a renewed effort today. The exhibit highlights the multitude of ways our nation came together back in the 1940s — and switched gears to support the war effort.

“We have all of our freedoms because of those who died in battle, and those who wore the uniform to serve,” Buttery said.

Traveling World War II Memorial on Milwaukee’s lakefront

Thursday, Sept. 3 is the last day to see the Traveling World War II Memorial. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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