About Us

With your generous support, the dream of a Dubuque veteran became a reality!

How It Started

Dubuque resident, Louis Kartman, a former U. S. Marine who survived the Korean War and the famous “Frozen Chosin” Reservoir battle, wanted his city to have a veterans memorial. And now it does.

Kartman thought if Cuba City, Wisconsin had a veterans memorial as does Ryan, Iowa, and Park Rapids, Minnesota, why not Dubuque? For more than 40 summers, Kartman has fished in the Park Rapids area, in northern Minnesota. He was talking to a fellow former Marine who spoke admiringly of the ‘All Veterans Memorial’ that sits along U.S. 71 on that city's south side. "He said I had to see it," Kartman said. "They're proud of it."

Park Rapids' memorial is highlighted with 11 granite markers denoting all of America's conflicts, beginning with the Revolutionary War through the first Gulf War. The markers are inscribed with the war's dates, those who served, those killed in action and prisoners of war. Another was planned for the ongoing Iraq War. High-flying flags represent each military service branch."You wouldn't believe the amount of men who come in and tell us how tearful it is," said Lezli Zimmerman, administrative assistant for the Park Rapids Chamber of Commerce.


Kartman didn't tear up, but he was impressed. He thought if Park Rapids, with a population of 3,900 (it quadruples in the summer), can build a monumental memorial, so can Dubuque. He began garnering support for the project in Dubuque in late 2006, and it gained momentum – finding enthusiasm from local veteran’s organizations and the general public. Dubuque city administrators agreed to be a partner on the project as well. With Dubuque City Council approval, the project was planned for city land next to the relocated Chaplain Schmitt Memorial, at the McAleece Sports Complex on Chaplain Schmitt Island.

"The City of Dubuque did not have a memorial that is this complete," said Kartman of the planned display of granite pillars and walls with flags flying overhead. The display was planned to recognize American conflicts from the War of Independence to Iraq and Afghanistan – 12 wars in all. "This memorial is more of a history for those who visit, to see all the wars," Kartman said.


(Left to Right) Senator Tom Hancock, Ron Jacobsmeier, George Goebel, Louis Kartman, Mayor Roy Buol, Mike Brannon, Dubuque County Supervisor Eric Manternach, Keith Shearer


Off the ‘Ground’

Ground was “officially” broken on the Veterans Memorial Plaza at approximately 3:33 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007. Dubuque Mayor Roy Buol gave the keynote address at the ground breaking, telling those present that the City of Dubuque was a proud partner in a project that recognizes the contributions and sacrifices of our veterans. “We extend our appreciation to the veterans who initiated the project; who brought the plan to the city council’s attention, and through whose commitment this vision became a reality.” said Mayor Buol.


Ribbon Cutting

Just a little over two years from the ground breaking, the dream became a reality. Over $500,000 was raised from paver sales, sponsorships, grants and donations for the first phase. The ribbon was cut on Veterans Day, November 11, 2009. Close to 2,500 attended the opening of the memorial with representation at the ribbon cutting from federal, state, county and local government as well as many veterans groups on interested citizens. The project would not have been possible without all of the support. Veterans Memorial Plaza has a non-profit 501(c)(3) status, and operates with a board of directors.



The memorial offers visitors a feeling of tranquility, honor and respect for our nation's veterans. It includes a curved wall to the back dedicated to the branches of service and the wars they served, with their flags flying in the background, bracketing an American flag with a POW/MIA banner below it. In the center, there is a 6-ton granite globe, 5-feet in diameter. The array is sitting among pavers and benches, each sold to raise money for the project.


The Future

Pavers to honor a veteran can be purchased by calling Brannon Monument at 563-583-6318. Please go to our ‘To Order’ page to get the details. Hopes are for additional features to be added to the memorial.

Click here for a sneak peak of Phase 2!