7/14/2017 7:27:00 AM A Face for Every Name: Vietnam veterans memorial exhibit comes to Rhinelander
Kayla Breese/River News
Visitors view the traveling “Wisconsin Remembers: A Face for Every Name” exhibit last week at ArtStart in Rhinelander.
Kayla Breese/River News
The seven Oneida County men killed in action in Vietnam: Robert J. Davies, Rhinelander 1947-1967; Gary B. Gehrke, Woodruff 1945-1969; Gustave F. Gudleske, Rhinelander 1936-1967; Arthur R. Henning, Lake Tomahawk 1949-1968; Wilhelm S. Hurkmans Jr., Rhinelander 1947-1968; Richard A. Roesler, Rhinelander 1946-1968; Donald D. Watson, Tripoli, 1939-1965, are included in the exhibit.
By Kayla Breese River News Feature Writer
Amid the usual Independence Day holiday festivities - parades, fireworks, cookouts and the like - many Northwoods residents took time last week to visit ArtStart in Rhinelander and pay their respects to those who paid the ultimate price for the freedom we celebrate every July 4.
From July 4-6, "Wisconsin Remembers: A Face for Every Name," a traveling exhibit featuring the photos of the 1,161 Wisconsin residents who gave their lives in the Vietnam War, was housed at the gallery.
The exhibit was hosted by the GFWC Rhinelander Woman's Club, which paid for the display to be shipped from Madison and worked in conjunction with several area veterans groups to find it a temporary home in the Northwoods.
Ken Juon, president of ArtStart, said his organization was thrilled to provide the space the club needed.
"When local community groups come to us with an idea, we like to make the space available," he said, noting the gallery saw steady traffic during the days the exhibit was available.
"This is still something that people still have a great deal of feeling for and want to find ways of paying tribute to not only the Vietnam veterans who were killed but also Vietnam veterans who are still here," he added.
Particularly poignant for local visitors was the panel showing the photos of the seven Oneida County men killed in action in Vietnam: Robert J. Davies, Rhinelander 1947-1967; Gary B. Gehrke, Woodruff 1945-1969; Gustave F. Gudleske, Rhinelander 1936-1967; Arthur R. Henning, Lake Tomahawk 1949-1968; Wilhelm S. Hurkmans Jr., Rhinelander 1947-1968; Richard A. Roesler, Rhinelander 1946-1968; Donald D. Watson, Tripoli, 1939-1965.
Aaron Glueckstein was drawn to the exhibit because his uncle, William Glueckstein of Waukesha, is one of the soldiers listed on the wall. Glueckstein said he never met his uncle and was grateful the exhibit is traveling the state so those who can't visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. can see the photos and learn about the sacrifices made.
"I think it's nice because a lot of people don't get the opportunity to go and travel to the actual wall or see the traveling wall when it comes through," he said, adding that it was particularly touching to tour the traveling exhibit during the week of the Fourth of July.
"It was nice to be able to come in, especially with it being the Fourth of July," he said. "I think that's pretty special."
Suzanne Nissen was awed by the exhibit.
"Wonderful, I got the goosies (goosebumps) just seeing it, I could almost cry," she said as she viewed the photos. "It's unbelievable that they could have pictures of almost every single person, it's outstanding."
She thought the Independence Day holiday was a good time for the exhibit to come to Rhinelander.
"Perfect timing, my goodness gracious," she said. "All these special, special people that put their lives at risk for us."
Nissen came to see her friend Gary Olson's entry. He was just 23 years old when he was killed in action, she said.
Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television created the exhibit with assistance from the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Volunteers collected the photos and submitted them to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which will be part of the national "Wall of Faces" exhibit at the Education Center at The Wall in Washington, D.C. Each state put together a similar exhibit, and Wisconsin's will join the rest in Washington.
"The intent of the overall project is to have a picture of everyone who appears on the wall in Washington, D.C.," Juon said.
In 2014, Andrew Johnson, publisher/owner of the Dodge County Pionier, and volunteer coordinator of the Faces Project in Wisconsin, saw a press release issued by WPR about the VVMF Faces Project and was inspired to help locate the remaining 450-plus missing photos.
With the assistance from community newspapers across the state, he believed the project could be completed and by Memorial Day 2015 a photo had been located for every name listed.
For Johnson, a Gold Star father whose son, David, was killed while serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan in January 2012, it was a labor of love.
"It is a great honor to talk with real heroes' parents, siblings and family members," he said. "It is highly emotional for me since I also lost a son. I wanted them to know that their loss was not forgotten. Many, many, individual stories were done about many of the soldiers who were killed while the newspapers collected the photos."
The idea of finding photos by using newspapers for this project has spread to other states, 17 of which have already completed their project since Dodge County Pionier got involved.
If you missed the exhibit while it was in Rhinelander, it is still traveling throughout the Northwoods.
Below is the remainder of the schedule for the Northwoods tour:
Antigo: July 11-15 at Antigo Public Library, 617 Clermont Street
Tomahawk: July 22 at American Legion Lounge Post 93, 327 W. Wisconsin Ave
Crandon: July 29 at American Legion Forest Post 94, 110 Madison Street
Kayla Breese may be reached at email@example.com.