The Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Tribute (“Fragments”)

The southern point of The Highground plaza is dominated by the sculpture honoring the service and sacrifices of Wisconsin’s Vietnam veterans. Winning a nationwide competition sponsored in 1986, Robert Kanyusik’s sculpture, “Fragments,” was chosen from over 100 entries.

The statue consists of four mutually supporting interlocked figures. The figures are fragmented recognizing the fragmentation of lives not only during war, but also in life.

This is the first veterans memorial in the United States to include a woman in the statuary. She is the tallest figure and wears a helmet to show she is at risk.

The poncho the woman wears flows out from the back of the figures, carrying under it bundles of bamboo-shaped bronze rods, each inscribed with the name of one of Wisconsin’s Vietnam casualties. Although the names were never meant to be read individually as are the names on “The Wall” in Washington, they were always meant to be spoken collectively.

They are given voice by the rods which have bronze wind chimes hung between them to cause the sound of their sacrifices and service to be carried to all who visit when the wind blows.

The statue is placed into a replica of a Wisconsin Native American burial mound to remind us never to bury away the service of all veterans and never to let the memory of that sacrifice die.

In the background you will see a M-16 that is broken apart and missing the trigger assembly. The M-16, when raised in this fashion, indicates a person down and medivac needed. Inserted in the M-16 is a piece of orange stained glass to remind us of Agent Orange. During our tours, we talk at length about its symbolism.