Thursday, August 6, 2020
Volunteers work on a concrete pad that’s part of the new World War II Memorial that being placed in Sparta’s Blyton Park. The Sparta Rotary Club project will be engraved with the names of nearly area 700 World War II veterans. The project will be completed shortly and a June 20 dedication ceremony is planned. From left – volunteers Bill Wissestad, Karson Knoll, Tony Polkoski, Todd Fahning and Kent Miller. Contributed photo.

WWII Memorial dedication ceremony planned June 20

Nearly 700 area veterans will be recognized through Blyton Park volunteer project

With most area Memorial Day activities cancelled over the weekend, the Sparta Rotary Club opted to postpone a dedication ceremony for its new Blyton Park World War II Memorial until later next month.

Sparta Rotary member Toni Wissestad, who helped organize the volunteer effort with fellow Rotarian Tony Polkoski, said the dedication ceremony will be held on Saturday, June 20, at 11 a.m. in Blyton Memorial Park.

Wissestad said the World War II Memorial, which will be engraved with the names of nearly 700 area WWII veterans, was scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day.

However, with the cancellation of Sparta's traditional parade and other Memorial Day weekend activities, the completion date was moved back.

The concrete foundations and the surrounding pad for the memorial have been completed and one marker has been placed in the park.

"With the parade being cancelled and some delays with the engraving, we had to postpone the dedication to June 20," offered Wissestad. "We wanted to hold a ceremony with the dedication. The memorial will be in place by June 20. They will be delivering it the week before, but everything will be in place for the dedication."

She said invitations are being sent out asking local dignitaries to participate in the dedication.

Other events and activities are also in the works, but Wissestad is unsure at this point what exactly will take place at the dedication.

"We are looking into additional activities that can be held in accordance with COVID-19 rules and regulations," offered Wissestad. "We hope to have a nice celebration, like we would have had on Memorial Day. We're very, very excited - it's absolutely beautiful."

The Sparta Rotary Club originally estimated the memorial would be engraved with 200 to 250 names, but the project grew quickly and now stands at 680 names with room for another 100 or so more in case some were missed.

"We were amazed at how many World War II veterans we have in Sparta," said Wissestad.

Blyton Memorial Park, named in honor of William H. Blyton, contains several other memorials

A plaque placed in the park during a 1981 dedication ceremony said Blyton was a “Soldier, patriot and for more than 55 years clerk of the Village and City of Sparta.”

Blyton Park also has memorials honoring veterans of the Civil War, Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm.

Other monuments include one for the USS Maine, another erected in memory of our nations defenders and one honoring Sparta’s Brig. General Donald P. Raddle of the 32nd Infantry Division in World War II.

"We would really like Blyton Park to be the park that honors veterans off all wars and the Sparta Rotary Club will continue with its efforts to make that happen," Wissestad concluded.

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