While teaching history in the Eau Claire school system, I was often struck by the inaccuracies,
trivialities, and the negative attitudes found in our history books. Instead of teaching our
youngsters how to be good citizens, the focus seemed to be on inquiry and critical thinking.
Students were asked to examine how the Rolling Stones, Madonna, and the Grateful Dead symbolize
popular culture. Perhaps Dennis Rodman and Albert Belle should also be included. While there is
plenty of space devoted to these examinations, nowhere is there any explicit reference to the
heroism of Americans on the Bataan Death March, Guadacanal, the Battle of the Bulge, the Inchon
Landing, or the sacrifices of the American soldiers in Vietnam.
We should not, we cannot, forget the sacrifices of our soldiers, past and present.
By remembering them, we assure them of their rightful place in our collective conscience
and in history. We cannot teach our children to become good citizens if they are taught
that their country has been primarily a negative force in the world.
THE HONOR ROLL
The 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II has passed into history. Unfortunately,
many veterans' organizations--founded on shared experiences which left lasting memories
of relationships, loss, good times, and pride in individual and united roles
in the defense of our nation--are dissolving as a result of attrition and age.
There are historic parallels to this: organizations which were formed after almost every major
war eventually dissolved and passed into history. The best known example is probably the Grand
Army of the Republic (GAR), formed at the end of the Civil War. Some of the GAR
members may have been known by World War II veterans. For example, a neighbor of mine,
Eau Claire's Mr. Balthazar Regli, died in 1945 and was the third-to-last Civil War soldier
to die. He was the last Wisconsin Civil War soldier to die.
Fortunately, because of the efforts of one family, the men and women veterans of World War II
from the Chippewa Valley will not be condemned to historical obscurity. Henry and Elizabeth Perry
painstakingly retrieved and placed into a scrapbook most Leader-Telegram articles written about
World War II service men and women from 1941 to 1945. Their daughter, Joyce Perry Wendt (Lawrence),
preserved these materials and has allowed me to use them, so that they could be recorded for posterity.
We owe it to our children to let them know what their grandparents did, so that they may learn
from their experiences and perhaps live a better life as a result. Soldiers from the Chippewa
Valley, men and women, who gave a portion of their lives to their comrades and to their country,
deserve recognition. Before the memory of World War II slips from the public consciousness,
we would like to remind people in the Valley of the invaluable role played by so many of the
Chippewa Valley World War II veterans.
This website is a modest attempt to present, with some degree of clarity, the achievements and
sacrifices of our veterans who helped America win the most widespread and monumental conflict in history.
We hope that it may give you a chance to follow your "boys and girls" through to the final victory and
re-live the experiences through which they passed. Hopefully, the reader may obtain a more
comprehensive understanding of the epoch-making event of the war--the gigantic battles on land,
sea, and in the air. We have endeavored to make this a human history with no attempt to alter
the articles. It is obvious that some are partisan; they could not be expected to be otherwise.
The dates of the articles were not recorded. For that reason, I was unable to arrange them in
chronological order. The best I could do for the reader was to arrange them by name,
in alphabetical order.
Also, for a number of reasons, not all men and women who served in the military from the Valley
were listed. For this, we are, indeed, sorry, and we do apologize.