Jun 18 2019
Amy Peterson | Estherville Daily News
Herschel "Woody" Williams is the sole surviving Marine from World War II to wear the Medal of Honor. This weekend, Williams came to Estherville to honor Gold Star Families, those who have lost a loved one who was serving in the armed forces.
The Emmet County community gathered Friday evening at the VFW for a banquet in honor of Gold Star families and veterans from Korea and one from World War II. Emmet County Quilts awarded 20 Quilts of Valor to local veterans. A color guard including Corey Fisher, Gene Haukoos, Shannon Lehmkuhl, Dana Russell, Perry Russell, Jon Dalen and Steve Erickson provided an honor guard. Alan Morphew sang the National Anthem.
Terry Reekers, former Emergency Management Director who died in March, 2018, was honored both at the banquet and at Saturday's dedication. On Saturday, Gold Star Families Foundation founder Herschel "Woody" Williams presented Reekers' widow, Connie Reekers with a medal and an invitation to become an honorary board member of the Foundation. Williams also presented city administrator Penny Clayton with the same honor for her work in making the memorial a reality.
A group consisting of Glenn Henriksen, Bill Hansen, Katie Kardell, Susie Hansen, Gene Kaltvedt, Alan Morphew and Steve Mahin provided music throughout the banquet.
Roses were presented to the Gold Star Families who attended the banquet, including the families of SSgt Steven Blass, who died March 11, 2013 at the age of 27 in southern Afghanistan; Dennis Ray Glenn, who died in Vietnam May 29, 1967 in Vietnam; William Eugene Weber of Dolliver, who served with the 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division of the Army and died Aug. 22, 1968 in Vietnam; David Fay Mann, who was killed in action June 5, 1969 near Tay Ninh, Vietnam; Charles Clendenin, who served in the second battalion 34th Armored Division of the 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army and was killed June 29, 1969; and Henry William Bernhard Peterson who served in an Armored Regiment unit and was killed in action in France August 17, 1944.
Lonnie Wilson, a Vietnam veteran who served as a helicopter pilot and was wounded, shared his experience at the banquet.
At Saturday's dedication, the VFW's honor guard once again presented the colors and raised the flags at the Veterans Park. Kaela Baker sang the National Anthem, and Williams spoke about the sacrifices Gold Star families made during times of war and any time a loved one was killed while away in the service. Gold Star family members were given a symbol of honor from the Gold Star Families Foundation and were invited to the official unveiling of the black granite monument.
One side of the monument bears the words, "Gold Star Families Memorial Monument." The other side tells a story through four panels: Homeland, Family, Patriot and Sacrifice. The unique feature of the monument is the cutout of a service member, which represents the loved ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom, according to the Foundation.
Williams said he hoped the monument and Veterans Park would serve as a place for families, veterans and community members to reflect and remember, and to experience peace.