Looking Back, Looking Forward
Here we are at the end of 2016. Looking back it is clear that we had quite a year at the War Memorial Center. I have listed just a few of the significant activities that were held at the WMC in 2016. Hopefully, you were able to attend one or more of them.
LZ at WMC
One of the three big events we held this year was the “LZ War Memorial” tribute to Vietnam Veterans in August. Almost 500 vets and their families danced, ate, and sang the night away. Our planning team had the Plaza jumping with the band Boomer Nation playing the biggest hits of the 60’s while they had the Plaza looking like a Southeast Asian firebase. Even Bob Hope made an appearance (via 60’s era video). The staff at the “Troop Cafe” did itself proud with the meals they served.
It was an amazing experience and one we plan to match in 2017 with a different theme. Watch for details in upcoming newsletters.
Educating for the Future
Another significant event was the “Cyber-Security Symposium” in September. Two of our board members, George Gaspar and Creamheld Pepito, with assistance from our staff created the program, marketed it, and even participated in the program’s discussion phase. Almost 200 attendees were treated to an informative and eye-opening presentation addressing a growing problem for this country, its businesses and its citizens.
Our board is committed to continuing adult education programming and early in 2017 local author Meg Jones will talk about her book “World War II Milwaukee.”
Gold Star Memorial
A third event was a more solemn occasion. Following the Annual Veterans Day parade, we dedicated the new Gold Star Family Memorial on the Veterans Courtyard. The black marble display includes a large gold star and a plaque dedicating the memorial to those families who had a loved one die while serving in the American Armed Forces. John Witmer, who lost his daughter Michelle, Jeanine Sijan-Rozina who lost her brother Lance, and Janice Dahlke who lost her son Randy, were our special guests and helped unveil the monument. Freedom isn’t free and in honoring those who paid the greatest price, we now include their families.
Earlier in the year a group of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee students enrolled in the Executive Masters of Business Administration Program volunteered to evaluate select WMC financial practices as part of their educational requirements. A team of three students utilized their personal business experience while under the watchful eye of the UWM faculty to review our existing practices. In November the board received their final report. We embraced some key findings and we have moved quickly to adopt them. We deeply appreciated the input of these MBA candidates and we thank them for their input. We also look forward to continuing our relationship with UWM.
Finally, in addition to the 900+ events and over 133,000 visitors, we also added new board members Bob Cocroft, Mike Grebe, Mike Gibson, and Andy Gordon, plus our Director of Development Vicki Chappelle and Education Coordinator Kristen Scheuing. As you can see this was a busy and productive year for us.
For 2017, we have several important activities planned and more major reconstruction. So, as I am fond of saying about the WMC, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all, and thank you for the continued support of your War Memorial Center.