Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A misplaced torch at a veterans’ memorial July 1, 2011

TYPICALLY, I WOULD NOT criticize a veterans’ memorial project. I respect those who have served our country and those who lead efforts to honor them via public memorials.

However, last week when I saw the latest addition to the in-progress Rice County Veterans Memorial Expansion Project at the county courthouse in Faribault, I could not believe what I was seeing.

There, guiding my eyes toward a center bronzed eagle and dove, was a flashing neon flame depicting “our never ending vigilance.”

The new, fake torch at the Rice County Veterans Memorial at the courthouse in Faribault. Here you see the wing tip of the bronzed eagle below the torch. I have not edited this image taken one evening last week.

My initial reaction has not changed since I stopped that night to closer inspect and photograph this neon torch better suited for a casino—anything but a veterans’ memorial.

As we all know, first impressions count. In this case, the neon flame certainly does not fit. This is supposed to be a place of reverence, of quiet meditation, of respectful honor for those who have served the United States of America. A fake, flickering fire does not portray that message of honor.

I am disappointed.

Prior to installation of this imitation torch, a fuel-fed torch burned near the historical Civil War statue which has long graced the courthouse lawn. Apparently that flame went out all too often, leading to its removal and installation of the Vegas style torch.

The long-standing Civil War statue sets a historical mood for the Rice County Veterans Memorial. I shot this image last fall.

To the right, in this unedited photo, you'll see a side view of the historical Civil War marker. In the center is the torch and the bronzed eagle and dove with flags and the courthouse in the background.

I could go on and on about how much I dislike this cheapening alternative, how it fails to fit the historical context of this place, the courthouse architecture or the long-standing Civil War marker. I won’t because I’ve said enough.

View my photos and tell me what you think. I’d like your opinion.

But even more, if you agree that this style of torch does not belong at a veterans’ memorial, offer a solution. I have none. Except to pull the plug.

Honorary pavers line sidewalks leading to the center of the Rice County Veterans Memorial in this image taken last fall.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


8 Responses to “A misplaced torch at a veterans’ memorial”

  1. Bernie Says:

    You are right, that looks like it belongs at a casino. I would rather have no torch than that one. Granted times change, but tacky is tacky.

  2. Katie Shones Says:

    I also think the pink neon flashing flame is tacky and unbefitting of a veterans memorial. Maybe if it was clear instead of pink, it would look better.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      The color isn’t really pinkish, but, no matter the color, this type of torch design just doesn’t fit a veterans’ memorial. I’ve seen it during the day and at night and I don’t like the fake flame during daylight either.

  3. Joanie Says:

    Audrey: I have a solution. Cut off the top and move the bottom up. This is where it belongs, in a place of honor! Joanie

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Do you mean completely eliminate the neon torch? I think the whole memorial would look better without it.

  4. Neil Schostag Says:

    It’s not only bad, people are laughing at it! The ONLY thing good that came out of this, is the fact that it draws peoples attention to the monument. It’s disrespectful


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