Small Missouri town honors veterans with large unique memorial

In Stella, Mo., you can't miss the veterans' memorial. Though the population of the village hovers around 150, the town is the home of a $51,000 memorial, Legionnaire and former memorial chairman Charles Dalbom said.

"When you come down the road from anywhere it is a focal point in the town," Dalbom said. "With the Princeton elms and the Brandywine maples, the bricks, the star, the walks, the grass and the flag, of course, it is something that is truly outstanding and not found in very many villages throughout the U.S." The evergreens, a pamphlet Dalbom wrote notes, could represent the "ongoing adventure" of freedom. The star's points, the branches of the military, and so on. The bricks on the walkway include names of veterans, their rank, branch of military and dates of service.

The Environmental Protection Agency was planning to rehab a lot near a senior citizens' center. Dalbom said he suggested making it into a veterans' memorial, garnered support and the project began. The community started the fundraising by meeting an $18,000 goal that was matched by the Farber Foundation in Neosho, Mo., he said. Branco Enterprises, the project contractor, made some in-kind donations, as did Neosho Concrete Products.

Since the memorial's completion in 2008, the community has used the site as a place for a Veterans Day ceremony. Seeing it fills Dalbom with emotion.

"I’m 82 years old, and I sit in front of the TV watching PBS The Newshour and I see the young people that have given their lives for our country," he said. "I sit with tears in my eyes because I have come home, got the GI Bill, a college degree, married a lady who helps me. ... We are blessed, and the men that have served this country in war and in peace should be honored for their service."

Dalbom said he would like to get in touch with men who served as personnel on the VF-121 cruise to Korea on the USS Boxer. His e-mail address is cdalbom@leru.net.

Submitted by:
American Legion

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