The Highground Honor Stone Program Offers a Profound and Lasting Tribute

For many Veterans serving overseas, most notably during the Vietnam War, going home was referred to as getting “Back in the World.” “The World” was a place of normalcy, family, everyday acceptable and calm conditions—a place to forget the nightmare of combat. However, the reality of getting back in the World did not meet with these expectations for a great many Veterans. The war hitched a ride back home with them in the form of nightmares, post-traumatic stress, ruined relationships, survivor’s guilt and some destructive behaviors. For these Veterans, getting back in the World was the beginning of a new struggle.

The Highground provides a unique opportunity for individuals to share their appreciation for a special veteran or service-hearted loved one in their life and often inspires never-before-told stories.

The Pabich family places an Honor Stone for Norbert Pabich during the ceremony on June 15.

On June 15, 2024, The Highground helped families and friends honor their special veterans and veteran organizations during the placement of twenty-four “Honor Stones” along the center walkway of The Highground plaza. “I didn’t want a stone, but my wife insisted. I’m so glad she did. It felt like I was setting something free,” shared a veteran after placing his stone during the morning’s ceremony.

As the family and friends gathered around where their stone would be placed that day, members of the crowd participated in the opening of the morning and afternoon stone ceremonies by ringing the liberty bell replica one time for each of the stones being place and starting the guests in the Pledge of Alliance and National Anthem. Two veterans of F Troop 105 CAV presented the American and POW flags for the morning’s ceremony and VFW Post 2977 from Jump River, Wisconsin provided the color guard and rifle salute for the afternoon.

The Highground’s traditional “Mixing of the Earth” was conducted by Vietnam Veteran David Mays, one of the first board members of The Highground (formerly the Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park, for the morning and Marine Veteran Craig Rossow for the afternoon. This tradition was established to form a connection between each stone placed.

The Highground has assisted in the placement of over 6,300 Honor Stones on the premises including the Meditation Garden Pavilion, Korean War Tribute, Persian Gulf Tribute, Military Working Dog Tribute and the plaza overlooking the moraine landscape. “Each ceremony presents its emotional challenges as The Highground witnesses veterans humbled by the presentation of their Honor Stone and opening up about their time in service. The Highground has watched families lovingly place a stone for their special veteran who passed because of their time in service or by time itself,” says Executive Director Chris Pettis.

Each month from May through October, The Highground provides this unique opportunity for individuals to show their appreciation for a special veteran, service-hearted loved one, and even their beloved Military Working Dog and veteran service dog. The story does not stop there. The Highground maintains public “Registry Books” that contain information on each Honor Stone. Families and friends are encouraged to share photos, news articles, letters and much more as a fluid archive for generations to come.

Many guests have expressed how special The Highground is to them, that they feel at home, humbled, at peace and in touch with the generations of military service members that came before them. Honor Stones not only create connections—the purchase is considered a tax-deductible donation to The Highground. For more information about obtaining your Honor Stone, visit the “Honor Stones” page at thehighground.us or contact The Highground Stone Coordinator at donations@thehighground.org or 715-743-4224.

For more information about the Museum, exhibits or upcoming events, visit The Highground’s website a
thehighground.us or follow them on Facebook at Facebook.com/TheHighgroundVeteransMemorial.

The Highground is located at W7031 Ridge Rd, Neillsville WI 54456. thehighground.us.