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Reedsburg woman aims to get the names of armed service members out on Veterans Day

November 2, 2017 GMT

Sheri Weldy wants people to discover the names of armed services members on Veterans Day.

The Reedsburg resident is part of the Reedsburg ROCKS group and has painted more than 200 rocks with names of veterans. The rocks, painted in patriotic colors, also include the veteran’s branch of service and the war in which they served. They will be spread around in public places around Reedsburg and Baraboo on Veterans Day.

Weldy said she has received requests from families with loved ones serving in Afghanistan and even those who trace back their family heritage to the Revolutionary War.

“A lot of them are alive, some of them are deceased, some of them are currently serving in the (armed) services,” she said. “Basically whatever the person is telling me I’m putting on there.”

The project started when she created a rock with a picture of her father from when he was in the Army. Her father, Sgt. First Class Lawrence Kislia, served in the Army for 21 years during the Korea and Vietnam War eras.

When Weldy was young, she said she didn’t understand or appreciate what her father did to serve his country.

“At that time I felt more anger that he was gone,” she said. “The last couple years of his life I spent a lot more time with him… I think it was during that time I started to appreciate the man that he was.”

She planned to place the rock in a public area in Reedsburg on Veterans Day, but the more she viewed her father’s picture smiling back at her, the more hesitant she was to let it go.

Instead she sought a new way to help spread the message of Veterans Day. She reached out to request names of veterans through the Reedsburg and Barabook ROCKS social media page to start designing rocks. Both groups are a part of the nationally recognized Kindness Rock Project to design rocks and place them in public areas for anyone to find to help spread creativity and enthusiasm.

“I think it’s a really cool thing,” she said. “It brings a little bit of happiness and joy. Something to look forward to.”

Reedsburg ROCKS creator Sarah Hill said Weldy is taking the group’s purpose to heart.

“I am extremely grateful to have her and there are a handful of others in the group from within our community that stay quite active with painting and distributing them throughout the community,” Hill said.

Weldy not only plans to place the rocks on Veterans Memorials throughout Baraboo and Reedsburg, but also in public areas, such as park benches and playgrounds, for those who see them to stop and think about a veteran.

“I want to put them all over town so that all kinds of people everywhere will pick one up and maybe stop and think about somebody that they know or the person’s name that’s on that rock,” she said.

Anyone who finds one of the rocks can take them home to put in another location. She also encourages those who find a rock to keep the rock and put another one in its place.

“Grab a rock and just write ‘Smile’ and put it out there,” she said.