Letter: Military celebration was moving part of 2019 Fillmore County Fair

To the editor:

The 2019 Fillmore County Fair started with a very moving and memorable military celebration on Tuesday, July 16, to recognize the reconstruction of the 100-year-old World War I Memorial entrance at the fair grounds. The entrance was first used on Aug. 26, 1919, to welcome home the soldiers from WWI where 48 Fillmore County soldiers had lost their lives.

The patriotic celebration began with flag corps, representing the various service organizations in Fillmore County, marching from the Preston Trailhead, over the County 12 bridge to the memorial entrance with the Cresco, Iowa, American Legion Riders lining the path. The year 2019 is also the 100th anniversary of the American Legion.

Staff Sargent Nathan Pike, Olmsted County Veteran’s Service Officer, served as the emcee. Johnny Holliday (Air Force) who did the National Anthem for the Final Four in Minneapolis earlier this year and accompanied by Tyler Erickson, performed the National Anthem with an inspiring rendition.

Col. Joe O’Connor of Arizona, representing older retired veterans, spoke about the history of World War I and all of the Fillmore County activities that happened to support the war effort in addition to the sending off more than 1,000 soldiers.

Jackie Ryan of Harmony sang “Fallen But Not Forgotten” by Roy Boltz before Sargent Josh Krage of Preston, representing recent veterans, shared all of the aspects of military involvement with the theme “We understand.”

Multiple flyovers by three planes in formation were a highlight for those gathered.

The Red Bulls provided a CD with the theme songs for each of the military branches. Beginning with the Army and led by Col. O’Connor, those present from each of the branches stood and were recognized during the playing of their song. The program concluded with the reading of “In Flanders Field” by Hannah Schneekloth, Mabel Girl State representative.

The committee would also like to thank S.A.C. Towing for displaying its patriotic tow truck and the large American flag as a focal point for the program and the Riverine Forest memorial traveling display from Bluffton, Iowa, for their presence.

Committee members,

Kathy Tesmer, Harmony, secretary of Fillmore County Fair Board

James Westby, Mabel, American Legion

Dick Petsch, Preston, Preston Historical Society

Sheila Craig, Preston, Fillmore County Fair Board member and President of Preston Historical Society