Eagle Cane Heads

Carving support for veterans: Group is making handmade canes for local veterans

        -- Racine Journal Times - 05/09/2006 - Paul Sloth

Racine, WI - Paul Miller thought it sounded like a good idea - carving canes for veterans returning home with a leg injury.

Miller, an avid wood carver, owns his own woodcarving business. And when another member of his wood-carving club, the Racine Wildlife Carving Club, told him about the idea to carve canes for returning veterans, he couldn't wait to get started.

Miller, owner of Fox Carving in Racine, said he thinks it's an important project and something he can do for veterans. The canes will have a hand-carved American bald eagle on top. Some will be cane length and some will be hiking stick length.

"The veterans are going through a lot," Miller said. "This is more personal and it's the eagle, which I think represents our country."

Dennis Bell, secretary of the Wildlife Carving Club, took the lead in starting the program in southeast Wisconsin after he learned about a similar program. The Eastern Oklahoma Wood Carvers Association donated memorial canes to members of the Armed Forces injured since Sept. 11, 2001.

Locally, the club plans to extend this to include the families of anyone from Wisconsin who was killed in combat in the same period.

"I think it's a good cause," said Bell, who lives in Pleasant Prairie. "Vets are doing a lot for us and we want to do something for them."

The Wildlife Carving Club, which meets in Racine, has members from both Racine and Kenosha counties.

Any recipient may request special wording or images to be added to their cane.   Miller said he's trying to get a group of young carvers involved with the project. He hopes to get them interested in donating their finished pieces to an area veteran. The Wildlife Carving Club has received support from other area carving clubs, Bell said, including one in Union Grove.

At this time the Memorial Cane project is open to anyone from Kenosha and Racine counties, but Bell said he hopes to broaden it to include the entire state, depending on the response and the resources available. For legal reasons, Bell said the club can't tell anyone to use the canes.

Bell said the carving club will continue making canes "until we run out of canes or we run out of people. Right now we'll probably run out of canes before we run out of people."

One of the problems Bell said he's run into is finding out where the eligible veterans would be in Wisconsin.

Bell said he's enlisted the efforts of local veterans' organizations. He recently presented his plan to the Racine Area Veterans' Council as a way to get word of the project out into the community.

"It's a beautiful thing and it's a really neat project," said Ron Turner, president of the Veterans' Council. "It takes a lot to get the veterans excited and these guys were really excited."

If you know a veteran from the state returning with a leg injury or the family of any veteran who was died in service since Sept. 11, 2001, contact:

Dennis Bell
9461 River Road
Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158

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