101 Things To Do: Soldiers Walk Memorial Park in Arcadia
Editor's note: This is the latest stop in the series 101 Things To Do. Each week through December 2020, we will select one place or activity around the region to highlight. The stories are compiled at www.rivertown101.com.
The Soldier's Walk Memorial Park is a tribute to the great leaders and heroic veterans who have served the United States in conflicts and wars. The park contains 28 historical monuments and dozens more individual memorials along with informational plaques and markers.
The park was created by Ronald G. Wanek, founder and chairman of Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. The 54-acre contains a playground, aquatic center, volleyball and tennis courts, and amphitheater. The Ronald and Joyce Wanek Foundation has donated over $7 million to the development and maintenance of the park. Wanek is not only the chief benefactor, but the sculptor of many of the statues.
Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman, who served more than 10 years in the U.S. Air Force including a tour in Turkey during Desert Storm, and 10 years in the Army National Guard with a tour in Iraq during Iraqi Freedom, said his visit to the Soldier's Walk Memorial Park "was very emotional, and historical as I reflected on the battles and conflicts that our nation has participated in to maintain our freedoms and way of life we enjoy today."
The park begins with the Revolutionary War and moves visitors through the historical stages of America's conflicts and leaders.
Pohlman said the historical approach helped him "reflect on the sacrifice of all the veterans that have gone before you. Then you arrive at the conflicts that you participated in and reflect on the loss and sacrifice that you witnessed. You say a prayer that your efforts paid honor to those veterans that went before you, those you served with, and those veterans yet to come."
The park's website contains a full-length video of the Soldier's Walk statues and explains the significance of the conflicts. Visitors can download an app to give them a walking tour of the site.
Pohlman said seeing the statues and park helps visitors "realize the cost of freedom and the way of life that we enjoy and that those lost in conflict will not have died in vain, but set the example for future generations to preserve the very freedoms and quality of life that the United States represents and that we enjoy."
If you go...
Name: Soldier's Walk Memorial Park
Address: Memorial Park Drive, Arcadia, Wis.
Hours: Open daily