Clark county is also home to the Highground, a 155-acre park that includes a museum, hiking trail, picnic areas and more. For the 12th year, veterans spent part of their Memorial Day riding their motorcycles in the annual honor ride to the Highground Veteran’s Memorial in Neillsville in remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“That’s what Memorial Day is for. It’s for them and their families. It’s not for the rest of us veterans and while people want to thank us for our service this weekend, it’s not for us. It’s for those that have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country”
Veteran Del Scanlon of Reedsburg comes from a long line of people who chose to serve our country.
“I’ve got aunts, uncles, my dad, brothers. I have a brother that retired from the navy. And my oldest son is a U.S. Air Force veteran. And I served in the Navy from 1978 to 1983.”
Scanlon has been making the trek for the honor ride the past few years.
“Actually, this is about the fifth or sixth year that I’ve led a group up from the Reedsburg area. And we’ve had people come to the area from Michigan, Illinois and southern Wisconsin to join the ride coming up here.”
Scanlon says the number of participants varies each year. But he says one thing that remains the same is the desire to remember the fallen.
“The Highground is a special place. It doesn’t honor just those that have fallen. It honors every conflict that we have ever been in. It honors different races. It honors the women and everybody. It honors the Americans who served our country”
The seventh district VFW riders are just one of many groups participating in the honor ride.
Air force vet Douglas Mauritz is a part of the riding group.
“We topped out at 78 riders total, all from outside of the central Wisconsin area, starting in the Fox Valley.”
Mauritz has another connection to the Highground other than being a vet.
“When I was a sophomore in high school, I actually participated in some of the benefit walks to get the Highground started, and over the decades have been helping out wherever and whenever I could.”
Mauritz says the honor ride is a somber event.
“We do try and have a good time, but this is a very serious thing for all the veterans involved. We all have lost someone or know someone that lost someone.”
Mauritz adds that the holiday isn’t about grilling out or having a backyard party.
“Memorial Day isn’t about hotdogs and hamburgers. We’re thinking about people that we’ve loved and lost and never came back from the time they were asked to spend with the service.”
They don’t serve for discounts. They don’t serve for the things they serve because they love our country. The veterans here say it doesn’t matter what branch of the military or what war you served in. A vet is a vet.
“We’ve served in a bond that people don’t understand. And it doesn’t matter if you served in World War two, as my uncle did, or if you served in Afghanistan and Iraq and are serving now, you’re still my brother and my sister.”
Scanlon says the sacrifice made by those who didn’t make it home shouldn’t be forgotten.
“It’s a mother and a father, a spouse, a child that also lost something. Part of them is gone that they can never get back, and they need to be remembered for that.”
There were more than six routes across the state bringing more than 200 riders to the Highground for this year’s honor ride.
All the money raised through biker registrations helps the Highground improve its programs and retreats.