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Milwaukee War Memorial's importance examined through eyes of its Board Chairman, Michael Grebe

TMJ4's Charles Benson talks with Grebe about his service to country and community.
Posted at 2:59 PM, May 31, 2021

The Field of Flags outside the War Memorial Center stands as a reminder of the fallen heroes who will never be forgotten.

Each flag represents the servicemen and women who have died since September 11, 2001.

7,065 lives lost.

Milwaukee residents recognize Veterans ahead of Memorial Day

TMJ4 looks at the importance of the War Memorial through the eyes of one man who has served our country and continues to serve our community.

Board Chairman Michael Grebe credits the staff and leadership for getting the War Memorial Center through another big challenge - the pandemic.

Grebe: We have managed to do well financially. We have become, the staff has become very good at virtual events, we're doing lots of educational events virtually now with school children.
Benson: Are you optimistic about 2021?
Grebe: I'm very optimistic. And there's a lot going on here, Charles, a lot.

The War Memorial's mission is to honor the dead and serve the living. That includes new leadership academy classes for young girls, suicide prevention programs for veterans, and soon, a new Medal of Honor exhibit.

"We are going to put an exhibit in the Memorial building, this year, honoring the Wisconsinites who have received the Medal of Honor," said Grebe. We're really looking forward to that."

Benson: What is your sense as a veteran as well, of where we are as a country and appreciating our veterans?
Grebe: I think we have improved in that. I think veterans are greatly appreciated. Now, I say that as a Vietnam veteran.

The Vietnam war was unpopular, and our country didn't always welcome home veterans with open arms at that time.

A few years ago, Grebe was featured in the War Memorial's Veterans Story Project, where he talked about his experience in Vietnam. He arrived in the country in 1964.

He was awarded two Bronze Stars for heroic and meritorious achievement in Vietnam after graduating from West Point - the Army's top school.

Benson: Number two in your class, if I remember correctly?
Grebe: Yes.
Benson: How did that shape your life, both of those experiences?
Grebe: Well, West Point was a wonderful opportunity for me, I come from a small rural community in down-state Illinois, and it broadened my horizons. The experience in Vietnam, I think everyone will tell you who has been in a combat situation, you learn a lot about yourself.

After leaving Vietnam - Grebe got a law degree and blazed a trail in Milwaukee running the law firm Foley and Lardner, and later the Bradley Foundation -- all the while active in conservative politics and community projects.

Benson: What does this mission mean to you?
Grebe: It means a great deal, Charles, because the mission of the War Memorial is very special to me, probably because I am a veteran. I'm enjoying my involvement here as a volunteer.

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