WWI memorials to merge
Merrill is about to benefit from the joining of two existing WWI artifacts.
Since its dedication in 1923 the Cenotaph WWI Memorial has graced Merrill’s West side. A lesser known but very important memorial has been hidden away for decades.
The Merrill Historical Society has rediscovered a 7-foot high, 380-pound bronze plaque in storage. This massive marker prominently lists the names of Lincoln County veterans who died in World War One. The plaque has hung for years on a wall in the former American Legion building, now used as storage for the Merrill Historical Society.
An effort is now underway by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Mar-Lin Post 10203 and Fillmore Metal Crafters to restore and display this treasure. Plans are to have it prominently placed next to the Cenotaph Park Memorial. Fillmore Metal Crafters is donating the time and materials to clean the plaque and construct a means to mount it. Post 10203 will raise the funds necessary to finish the project.
Plans also include paver stones engraved with the names of additional local WWI veterans plus a granite dedication stone. With proper funding and approvals the project could be completed as soon as this Memorial Day, said Steve Sabatke, memorial organizer and member of VFW Post 10203.
Sabatke said putting the plaque on public display is an important way to pay tribute to a group of veterans who are now all deceased.
“This is truly a situation where everyone involved is no longer with us,” he said.
A group of Merrill area WWI veterans organized as Lincoln Barracks #1347 held meetings at the American Legion building for years. The group reached a high of 117 members in 1971, but disbanded in 1976.