Letters to the editor -- 6/14/18

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Dedication and hard work created Veterans’ Wall, still room to engrave additional names

Since our wall dedication a few weeks ago, I have received much positive and some negative feedback. I am hoping my letter will clear up concerns people have.

When my second grade class and I started the Stillwater Memorial Wall project, we thought collecting names would be easy until we found there were no records. They had been burned in a fire in St. Louis years ago. We didn’t abandon our project however, but proceeded as best we could. We copied the names of the World War II vets off the plaques in the courthouse and the Local VFW and American Legion groups gave us some names. We checked books at the museum and opened a website, we posted all the names in the county post offices and in the courthouse. The Stillwater News listed all the names for us several times over the past seven years and we asked that people contact us if names were misspelled or missing. Even, with that, we knew we would not get every name so we left room on the other side of the wall for more than eight hundred names.

We also had room for forty-seven more names on the last plaque on the front. Unfortunately, eleven of the names I gave the engraver were accidently omitted. He had trouble with some of them because they were so long, with first and middle names. Because of this, he had to keep moving and reformatting. Those eleven names were the first I added to that plaque, with only middle initials. People have called me, like I requested, asking how to get someone added. I am happy to say that we now have enough names to send it in for engraving. We will not be able to have the next plaque engraved until we collect 200 more names, so if you have a name that should be on there, please contact me at jhharsha@gmail.com or 855-8060. Remember, to have your name on the wall, you have to have served in the military and have resided in Stillwater County.

Each 2-foot-by-2-foot square plaque was engraved individually as we didn’t know how many names would fit on each one. When we decided the layout on the wall, two plaques were put together and some people read them as if they were one continuous plaque. They didn’t find a name they were looking for when, in fact, that name was listed. We probably should have put a divider between them to make it easier.

This project was initiated as a way to thank our local veterans for all they have done for us. We are doing our best to make sure all are honored.

Jeanne Harsha

Columbus

Youth participation on Memorial Day encouraging

Memorial Day is a day that some see as a 3-day weekend to enjoy the sun and fun of spring. As a teen, Memorial Day was a day when my clarinet and I went to play in my school band at a cemetery or two to honor veterans. I learned to enjoy the feeling of pride in doing that. When my husband and I moved to Montana, those visits to honor veterans continued.

This year my 6-year-old granddaughter, Emily, stayed overnight for some grandma time. I put her to bed and within 15 minutes I had the child running to me saying, “Grandma, we have to go tomorrow to the cemetery to put flags and crosses up at 8 o’clock. Nana and the people need my help.”

I have to admit I had never gone and helped set up for Park City’s Memorial Day service. It was not that I did not want to, I just forgot. Emily and her 14-year-old sister, Riley, have helped with Poppy Day and the prep for Memorial Day because their Nana, Jean Bossen, has been very active in the auxiliary.

In the morning we headed to help. It was amazing to see the number of members of the VFW, the young Marines, neighbors and the women of the American Legion Auxiliary who came together to put out the 175 large flags and small flags at each veteran grave site. Placing a small flag on a grave meant reading a map and finding the veteran’s grave. Emily reminded me where I could safely walk and on which side the flag should go as she proudly pulled the little red wagon filled with supplies. Her big sister helped search for names pushing a small cross into the ground.

At the service later I heard the taps played by teens and music sung by other teens under the direction of the music teacher. Families gathered and speakers shared prayer and thoughts. I watched a wife and her husband with a walker honor their friend and others helped them with their flat tire.

The pride I felt watching my community honor our veterans reminded me of how precious our freedom is. I am comforted that through a small child’s determination that those children will carry on the honoring when my generation is gone.

Carol Henckel

Park City

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