Off The Press

May 21, 2013

By Kathleen R. Merrill

Keep the stories alive, never forget veterans

I had tears in my eyes when I read this year’s feature stories for Lest We Forget — our annual special section remembering and honoring our local veterans.

Here’s one reason:

“There were lots of heroes who fought for this country during World War II. Each of them has a story, but they are in the twilight of their years and the stories are falling silent with each passing.”

Kathleen R. Merrill Press managing editor

Kathleen R. Merrill
Press managing editor

That was Kevin Murphy, the son of World War II veteran Richard Murphy, a 90-year-old veteran who lives in the Spiritwood Retirement Community at Pine Lake.

It’s true that the stories of these real-life heroes are falling silent, and it’s the reason I started this section and why we continue to work hard to keep it going. My buddy in the trenches, the local VFW’s Dave Waggoner, and I get started on raising funds a couple of months before this prints. I could not do this project — which is so important to me that it regularly brings tears to my eyes — without his unflagging support, colorful pep talks and endless assistance.

It’s a lot of legwork, going from business to business to ask them to support this endeavor. Instead of giving them space in ads, like we do for advertisers, they get a small mention in a banner at the bottom of a page. And that’s good enough for them; they want to help us never forget all of our local veterans.

We’ve had two sponsors — Flintoft’s Funeral Home and Brown Bear Car Wash — who have been with us for all four years that we’ve done this section, and we could not begin without their generous contributions. Please check out all of the sponsors of this section and support them.

I also couldn’t make this happen without our page designer David Hayes, who spends hours and hours laying out the section beautifully, and production manager Breann Getty, who scans all types of photos and makes them look great.

For the first time, we went into the week before production without the section being paid for. After some last-minute finagling, we were able to allow people to donate online, for the first time. This brought us the money we needed, and I thank everyone of those people here. We could not list them all.

This was the first year we lost someone we had featured the year before. World War II veteran William Bentz was on our front cover last year. He passed away about three weeks after the section was printed. His family was thrilled we got his story before it was gone with him.

This was the first time we accepted people well past the deadline. I actually typed in a couple of them this morning. You’ll see they’re out of alphabetical order, but we got them in where we could. In all, we added 29 new veterans to our “family” this year.

This was also the first year for a group photo. Louise from Bellewood Retirement Community called late in the game to ask if we could get their 20 veterans in. At first, we didn’t think we could. But, photographer Greg Farrar scrambled for a group photo so we didn’t have to leave those men and women behind.

That brings me to the point of this column and the section. We won’t leave anyone out and we won’t leave anyone behind. Thank you, veterans, for your service!

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