Teen’s effort updates war memorial
JANESVILLE On Father’s Day in 2010, 14-year-old Sam Hesgard’s grandfather took him over to see the Rock County war memorial at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.
Sam had one thought after seeing the 35-year-old memorial.
“They deserved better,” Sam said.
The memorial’s plaques, which feature the names of Rock County residents who have died in combat, were faded and warped from years of exposure to the sun.
Hesgard told his mother, Kim Hesgard, the memorial looked like “crap” and someone should do something about it.
“I told him with the way budget dollars are these days if you want to do something about it then do it,” Kim Hesgard said.
Sam answered his mother’s call and did something.
He attended several town of Rock meetings and received permission to update the plaques at the memorial.
Sam posted flyers around his hometown of Edgerton asking for odd jobs to raise money. He cut grass, walked dogs and washed windows to raise the $200 needed to have new plaques made up. The whole process took him a little over a year to finish.
“You want your kids to leave a better footprint on the world,” Kim Hesgard said. “I’m really proud of him for sticking with it.”
Sam’s father, Brian Hesgard, and his grandfather, Art Disch, helped him install the new plaques Friday afternoon.
“It’s fantastic for him to take the initiative,” Brian Hesgard said. “So many other kids are playing video games.”
Sam’s great-uncle, Ross R. Disch, is named on the memorial. Disch was killed while serving in World War II. Art Disch said six of Sam’s great-uncles served in the war.
Kim Hesgard said the airport is doing renovations later in the summer and will be taking down the memorial. After the construction is done they are planning on either building a canopy to protect the plaques or placing them somewhere out of direct sunlight.
Brian Hesgard said he was proud of his son and was happy he was able to do something for the veterans.
“Anything we can do to help honor these people who served and gave their lives for our country,” Brian Hesgard said.