A veteran looks out over the National World War II Memorial in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. V
Carolyn Kaster, AP
Carving canes for Wisconsin veterans
- Article by: CHRIS VETTER
- Associated Press
- October 7, 2013 - 3:37 AM
CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. — The handcrafted wooden cane Kevin Hanson received two weeks ago has a practical use: It helps Hanson, a 59-year-old veteran of the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm, stay on his feet despite periodic leg weakness that makes him susceptible to falling.
But the cane, which included a U.S. flag painted near the cane's eagle-headed top, has a symbolic meaning as well, a recognition of Hanson having served his country.
"It's fantastic. It's an honor that someone built a cane for me," an appreciative Hanson said. "I was very touched when they gave it to me, because they made it just for me."
A dozen other residents of the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Chippewa Falls recently received similar functional-yet-emblematic canes and walking sticks from the West Wisconsin Wood Carvers Guild, whose members carved the wooden supports as a tribute to the veterans, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reported..
Ron Mastrobuoni, a carvers club member, said the canes were shaped from diamond willow trees.
"It's a very hard wood," Mastrobuoni said. "A lot of work went into them. I worked on mine for three months. It's not an overnight project."
The carvers stripped bark, cleaned the wood and applied several coats of varnish to their carvings. Mastrobuoni's wife, Carol, created art, such as a detailed American flag, on each cane. Most of the canes feature a carved eagle serving as a handle at the top.
Larry DeFrenn, 89, of Michigan, a World War II Army veteran who served in the Philippines in 1944-45, said he was impressed with the detailed carving and artwork on the canes.
"I love it," DeFrenn said. "I had a steel cane. This one, the length is just right."
Another veteran, 87-year-old Ray Ripienski of Chippewa Falls, was impressed with how the carver of his cane worked around a large knot in the wood.
"It's something I couldn't do," Ripienski said of the carved canes. "I think the vets that got these really appreciate it."
Mastrobuoni said carvers were pleased with the reactions they received from veterans.
"To see them fond of (the canes), I'm very happy with that," Mastrobuoni said.
The carvers guild came up with the idea of making the canes for veterans in the spring, Mastrobuoni said.
"We do have very talented carvers in our club," he said.
This is an AP Member Exchange shared by the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram
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