Spotlight on the Good Works of the RCM Community Trust: Milwaukee County War Memorial Center’s Operation Renew

The Milwaukee County War Memorial Center has been the home of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee since its opening in 1957. Today, RCM is proud to take part in a critical renovation of the Center through the lead gift of $100,000 from the RCM Community Trust to “Operation Renew,” a major restoration project supported by Milwaukee County.


The War Memorial Center’s Operation Renew Campaign is closing in on completing the funding of its initial project, the reconstruction of Veteran’s Courtyard.  As you may have noticed on Tuesdays, demolition of the existing site began in October.


Renovations will include:

  • Replacement of the concrete floor and drains. 
  • The addition of new flag poles and the granite “Ring of Honor.”
  • Replacement of the “birdcage” staircase and the Eternal Flame.
  • Restoration of the reflecting pool and granite name lists surrounding it that will include a display of the names of those killed in the line of action in recent conflicts (after Vietnam). Water spouts encircling the reflecting pool will gently enhance the solemnity of this popular feature.
  • A new movable “wall of glass” will facilitate seasonal access between the main lobby and the Courtyard for visitors.
  • Replacement of existing benches.
  • Re-arrangement of the existing monuments and planters.
  • Addition of new lighting, new sound system and the mounting of the flags of all five branches of the armed services.


The Veterans Courtyard will be a key source of material for the youth educational program being planned.  The rich history of the monuments, what they represent, the context of the conflict/war, and using veterans stories as living examples of the concepts being taught, will be invaluable.


The next phase of the Campaign will focus on funding to refurbish the War Memorial Center building and to initiate plans for the educational programming. Initial efforts have included creation of self-guided, mobile app tours for the Center and the Veteran Story project.


Through interactive exhibits, the “Veteran’s Story Library” will preserve the experience of our veterans, while providing real life examples of patriotism, history, the importance of civic engagement, peaceful conflict resolution and the accomplishments of our veterans.


Fundraising continues for these campaign priorities, and several Rotarians are involved in assisting the War Memorial Center with the effort. Over the next year as you attend Rotary, you will see the gradual restoration of the War Memorial to gracious, dignified place for reflection, celebration and learning.