HEART OF STEELE
Last week’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Owatonna Veterans Memorial was surprisingly brief but filled with plenty of emotion.
I say “surprisingly” brief, because these types of events–at least in my experience–are more ceremony than groundbreaking. Speeches from dignitaries, reflections on the road to construction, that sort of thing, take up a good chunk of time before the ceremonial shovels dig in.
Moonlighters Exchange Club president Nicole Wacek’s short speech covered all the bases, thanking the people whose hard work made the day possible. But it was what she didn’t say that touched me the most.
As Wacek’s voice broke, I realized how deeply she felt that moment and how important it was to her. She and other members of the Moonlighters Exchange Club have worked hard for eight years to ensure Owatonna veterans, especially those who have given the last full measure of devotion, receive the recognition and honor they deserve.
After the ceremony, Wacek told me she comes from a military family, something I had already guessed. I suspect many of the Moonlighters have military ties as well. That is the only explanation for their hard work and determination to make the Owatonna Veterans Memorial a reality.
Anyone whose life has been touched by the horrors of war understands why this project is so important. My dad and many of my uncles served in the U.S. Army during wartime. My 85-year-old mother still remembers hearing her grandmother’s wail of despair upon receiving news that her son, Glenn, had been killed in action during World War II.
And so, I offer a sincere thank you to Wacek and the Moonlighters Exchange Club for pouring their hearts into the Owatonna Veterans Memorial. It will serve as permanent reminder of the sacrifices that have kept our country free.