Freedom Fest was held at the new Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex for the first time this year and included unveiling a new exhibit in the Veterans Memorial Stadium Hall of Honor.
The event was Saturday, June 18. Freedom Fest celebrates veterans and active duty military with a motorcycle ride, world-class music and a special tribute to Fallen Heroes.
This year’s event included a special unveiling of a replica of one of the sculptures at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. A smaller version of “Three Soldiers” will stand on a black pedestal in front of a wall mural of an Associated Press Vietnam combat photo in the Hall of Honor. The bronze replica, poured and cast in a New York foundry, was unveiled during Freedom Fest in the Hall of Honor.
The sculpture was funded by the Don and Roxanne Weber Family through the UW-L Foundation. The Webers have been key supporters of the stadium and the Hall of Honor.
“We’re very excited about bringing this remarkable sculpture to the university’s Hall of Honor,” says Al Trapp, president of the UW-L Foundation. “It complements the many other images and works in this wonderful complex that honors the many men and women of the Coulee Region who have served their country.”
The event also included music from Styx, America and The Remainders. Proceeds from the concert go to scholarships for returning veterans and to maintain the Hall of Honor.
About “Three Soldiers”
Frederick Elliott Hart created the sculpture. In 1980, the American master sculptor submitted a proposal to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial but came in third among 1,421 entries. After completion of the wall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund commissioned Hart to create a sculpture in 1982. The life-like bronze sculpture located in a grove of trees depicts three servicemen, a Caucasian, Mexican-American and African-American, in Vietnam era uniforms carrying infantry weapons.
Hart described the wall as “a kind of ocean, a sea of sacrifice that is overwhelming and nearly incomprehensible in its sweep of names. I place these figures on the shore of that sea, gazing upon it, standing vigil before it, reflecting the human face of it, the human heart.”
Through human bodies and faces, Hart conveys the experience and identity of the individual soldiers behind the names on the wall. He interviewed and researched the lives of many Vietnam War soldiers, bringing the meaning of being a soldier to life in the sculpture. Three Soldiers shows that human dignity and community spirit can be maintained in the violence of war and inevitability of death.
Dedicated by President Reagan in 1984, Three Soldiers is part of one of the most visited monuments in Washington, D.C. Hart received the Presidential Award for Design Excellence for Three Soldiers in 1988.