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Talking Spirits XXV: Forest Hills Cemetery Tours

A tradition of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum since 1998, Talking Spirits Cemetery Tours, bring to life the interesting and often unknown stories of souls interred at Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison.

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Talking Spirits XXV: Forest Hill Cemetery Tours
Vietnam: 50 Years Later

On March 29, 1973, the last U.S. combat troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. Wisconsin was there in more ways than one. Join the Wisconsin Veterans Museum for their annual Talking Spirits: Forest Hill Cemetery Tours, now celebrating its 25th year, to see, hear, and experience how the Vietnam War changed the lives of thousands of Wisconsinites for decades to come. These tours feature four vignettes along the route, as historical actors portray veterans’ experiences in Vietnam, as well as the policymakers who brought the war to conclusion, and the important mission of bringing our MIA’s home.

Tours will be held for school groups on October 2-8. Candlelit public tours are October 7 and daytime tours are October 8. Admission is $15 per person. Wisconsin Veteran Museum members receive free admission. All tours are at Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison. This event is made possible in part by a grant from Dane Arts.

School Tours

Date: October 2-5
Fee: $50 per class. Limit: 25 people

Candlelit Tours SOLD OUT

Date: Candlelit Tours Saturday, October 7
Fee: $15 per person, WVM members are free.

Daytime Public Tours

Date: Daytime tours Sunday, October 8
Fee: $15 per person, WVM members are free.

This year's vignette characters include the following:

George E. Manuel

Manuel was a 20-year veteran of the U. S. Air Force who served at Truax Field in Madison. He initially joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1939 and rejoined the air force in 1951. In between that time, the U.S. military desegregated. As a black man, Manuel experienced a segregated and desegregated service. He retired after 20 years of service.

Melvin Robert Laird Jr. 

Laird was U.S. congressman from Wisconsin before serving as Secretary of Defense under President Richard Nixon. Laird was instrumental in forming the policy of withdrawing U.S. soldiers from the Vietnam War; he coined the expression "Vietnamization," referring to the process of transferring more responsibility for combat to the South Vietnamese forces.

Richard W. Fischer

Fischer vanished in Vietnam's Quang Nam Province when he was part of a Marine ambush team. Military investigators searching for Fischer's body received tips from local residents, they excavated a burial site where they found his remains in 1994. In 2007 Fischer's sister and niece gave DNA samples, which were matched to his DNA. Fischer's remains were flown back to Wisconsin from a military base in Hawaii.

Annette Grunseth

Grunseth, the sister of Peter Langlois-who had conflicted feelings about his service, tells the story as someone who felt powerless to help the brother she loved as he suffered the effects of the war, both physically (Agent Orange cancer) and emotionally (severe PTSD).

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Talking Spirits Virtual Cemetery Tours 2020, 2021, and 2022

In the interest of the health and safety of our community in 2020 the Wisconsin Veterans Museum reimagined it's annual cemetery tours event from in-person tours to virtual tours. We continue to offer access to the 2020 Talking Spirits Virtual Cemetery Tour today with the addition of the 2021 and 2022 vignettes.

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is pleased to be in the serene and somber landscape of Madison's Forest Hill Cemetery to share with you the rich history of Wisconsin and its veterans. On this virtual tour we are excited to take you to places in the cemetery and show you interesting photos and objects we would not be able to if we were in person.

Video Vignettes

The video vignettes for the 2022 Talking Spirts Cemetery Tour have been uploaded to the virtual tour below. Their frame numbers in the tour are noted here:

Notley Henderson: Frame 3
John Wayles Hemings Jefferson: Frame 19
Captain Frank Newton: Frame 27
Anna Mae Miller Video: Frame 39

Navigation Notes

  • Before you enter the tour, please note the navigation symbols you will encounter. They are presented in the bar below.
  • Anything that appears to be a graphic is a spot you can click to either move or view a point of interest. If you hover over these spots, they will tell you what to do.
  • Click on the golden arrow to move forward in the tour.
  • Pan and click on the red arrow to move backward.
  • To pan: click, hold, and drag your mouse.
  • If you would like to make the tour image fill your screen, click on the three dots in the upper right corner.
  • To show the individual scenes of the tour, find the white photo icons at the center-bottom of the tour. Click on the icon to toggle the scene ribbon on and off.


  • The videos you will encounter are linked to YouTube.
  • When the video is complete, simply close the video window by clicking the X in the upper right corner or press escape on your keyboard.
  • All videos have been captioned.

Please note: this tour is best viewed on a desktop, laptop, or tablet. The time needed to view the entire tour is approximately one hour.

Scroll down to begin.

The 2023 project is supported by a grant from  Dane County Arts.

This production is costumed in part with the assistance of Children's Theater of Madison and the Madison Arts Production Center.

If you would like to support this project, please visit the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Foundation for ideas on how to help.


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