North Platte is home to one of the best military memorials in the United States.
The 20th Century Veterans Memorial actually honors military members from before and after the 20th century.
The memorial rivals any across the United States, including those in Washington, DC. The layout, size and style of presentation help the memorial stand apart from others we’ve visited.
The entrance is an arch with the memorial’s name. It’s protected with eagles on both ends. Atop the middle of the arch is a dove standing on the globe.
The first sculpture you see is the “Defenders of Liberty.” Three soldiers sitting together, enjoying some quiet time.
The memorial has a walkway with six sculptures on either side. They represent each military department, including the Coast Guard.
The first thing I noticed was that several sculptures bear the name of an actual person.
Major William Meisner has his arm raised in the air as if signaling to his troops to follow him. The major represents the Army.
The Coast Guard statue scans the horizon for a possible attack against the mainland.
The Marine standing at attention depicts the name of Private First Class Robert Lowe.
The Navy statue depicts a pilot ready for flight. It honors Lt. Commander Walton Erickson.
The next sculpture represents the Army Air Corps during World War II. The AAC was the precursor to the United States Air Force.
The sixth sculpture honors the medics, who have served during war. Sgt. First Class Tricia Jameson is the model for the sculpture. She served with the 313th Medical Company of the Nebraska Army National Guard.
In front of the memorial’s wall stands a quadrangle memorial. It honors the Nebraskans who have died during conflict from each military department.
Along the memorial is a Walk of Honor. Bricks contain the names of men and women who have served.
One of the bricks at the memorial honors Gen. Butler Miltonberger. Gen. Miltonberger was appointed by President Harry Truman to rebuild the National Guard following World War II, according to the memorial’s website, http://www.20thcvetsmem.org/.
The North Platte native was buried in the Fort McPherson National Cemetery in nearby Maxwell after his death in 1976.
The memorial wall depicts the five major conflicts of the 20th century – World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam Conflict and the Middle Eastern conflicts.
The memorial honors the volunteers of the North Platte Canteen. Women volunteered their time to help feed and support the 6 million soldiers who made their way through North Platte on trains during World War II. The status depicts Rae Wilson Sleight.
Finally, the memorial honors the truly unknown heroes of war – the Unknown Soldier. The tribute honors those known only to their maker from the American Revolutionary War to present day.
The North Platte veterans memorial is located south of exit 177 on Interstate 80. If you ever travel through the area, take a few minutes off the road and visit this site. You will not be disappointed.
As a veteran, I salute those who have served and those who have fallen. This memorial truly is dedicated to you.