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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

To make the best better

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Conner Goff places a flag at the grave of World War II veteran Wilmer Albin Jr. at Forest Hill Cemetery Friday morning.
What began as a tradition for one family has expanded into the community as a way to honor and remember fallen American veterans.

Ernest Rasner, a World War II and Korean War veteran, started the tradition. He would take his granddaughter, Karen Goff, out and place flags on the graves of veterans as Memorial Day approached.

"He did it for the same reason we're doing it now -- to remember and honor folks for the sacrifice they made to give us what we have today," Goff said.

Goff began taking her children out to carry on the family tradition. Last year she had the idea to branch out and invite others along.

For the second year, members of the 4-H Stars posted flags in the Forest Hill Cemetery. This year the activity was also attended by veterans and parents whose children are presently serving overseas.

Denise Gast's son John was injured and just returned from Iraq. She aided the 4-H kids alongside Randy Phillips, a Vietnam veteran.

On Friday, children ran from one set of graves to the next, competing to see who could post the most.

But they also remembered why they were at the cemetery and whom they were there to honor.

"This is really special what we are doing," said Rebekah Arsnoe, 4-H Star member. "I'm happy to be a part of it."

Walking from one congregation of kids to the next, it was easy to forget the surrounding gravestones. A few of the kids even have veterans as parents.

The brother-team of Nate and Zach Miller were proud to speak of their father, who served in the Navy. Chance Merrell also spoke fondly of his father's stint in the Air Force.

"My dad was a weather man," Merrell said.

Forest Hill was not the only stop for the children. They visited a few of the smaller, but still well known hallowed grounds to give every veteran their due.

Chance Merrell reads the name of the veteran as he places a flag on his grave Friday morning at Forest Hill as part of the 4-H Special Stars program.
"There are over 100 graveyards, some of them in the middle of corn fields," Goff said. "I wish we could get to them all, but it just isn't possible."

What used to be an all-day affair with Goff and her grandfather can now be assembled and concluded in only a few hours.

"Last year I was worried we'd be out here for six or eight hours," Goff explained. "But the kids were great and fast. They had it all done in a couple of hours."

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Good job 4H'ers! Thanks for remembering!

-- Posted by Andrew on Sun, May 25, 2008, at 4:57 AM

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