New memorial would be fitting tribute to veterans

Monday, December 9, 2013

First of all, we want to express our thanks to Pat Redfern, president of the Danbury American Legion Auxiliary, for the wonderful "Remembering Pearl Harbor" letter she contributed to the McCook Gazette's Open Forum column.

We are so very fortunate that a person lives within our midst who possesses vivid recollections of that horrible day 72 years ago when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor to pull the United States of America into World War II.

Pat's uncle, James Martin Gammill of the Bartley and Indianola area, was in Pearl Harbor on that terrible day. So was Leonard "Link" Sines of McCook. Link, a Marine, and James, a Navy man, lived to give eye witness accounts of one of the most critical days in American military history.

Page 1 today includes a tribute another of the dwindling "Greatest Generation," "Pete" Graff, who enlisted immediately after Pearl Harbor, flew torpedo bombers in the South Pacific, went on to build our community through McCook National Bank, associated businesses and charity efforts, and passed away, fittingly, early Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.

It is now our turn to remember; to pay tribute.

We need to follow Pat's advice. We need to establish a major Veteran's Memorial in McCook to pay proper tribute to men and women like Pete Graff, James Gammill and Link Sines.

Just a few days ago, the need for a memorial was brought to the public's attention by Michael R. Nielsen, a Doctor of Chiropractic who has served the McCook area for many years. Dr. Nielson suggested placement of the Veteran's Memorial at the George Norris/REA tribute site being proposed for placement on city-owned land located between Walmart and Plains Equipment Group on the west edge of McCook.

Dr. Nielsen's idea was endorsed by Gene O. Morris, a member of the McCook Gazette staff who serves as chairman of the George W. Norris Foundation.

We encourage Mrs. Redfern, Dr. Nielsen and Mr. Morris to move forward with their idea for a Veteran's Memorial. As they do so, we have a suggestion for their consideration.

There is a firm in Indianola, Windy Prairie Structures, that is doing outstanding work in the memorial recognition field. Advancements in the field in recent years are amazing. When visitors stopped in at the Windy Prairies' shop last week, the owner, Bill Rogers, demonstrated the computer-driven video presentations which are now available at the touch of a fingertip.

The impressive memorial machines are now being sold all across the Golden Plains. It's time we commission one for placement in McCook, Nebraska.

A good place to start is with Dan Stramel, one of the McCook area's most active veteran's advocate. Steve is the son of Ray Stramel, a World War II hero who returned to our community for many years of faithful service at the U.S. Post Office.

We must not forget. Let's take action, together, to build a Veterans Memorial.

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