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Thank them while we can

Peabody Main Street is gearing up for another “Operation Celebration: 1940s” during Memorial Day weekend. Some parts of the celebration will change, but some will remain the same. It seems everyone is awaiting the parade and the vintage biplane flyover! The GI-German soldier re-enactment shootout downtown was a high point for many in the 2009 celebration and folks are hoping for another. Music from the 1940s has been a popular staple of the event and the grounds will “swing” again this year.

As with all community functions, some parts develop and grow and others turn out to be not so great and are replaced. “Operation Celebration” is no different. Come check us out during the Memorial Day weekend. You can assist with this great promotion by volunteering your time or by writing a check to help fund it. And keep watching this newspaper during the next month and a half to find out what is on the horizon. We will have the goods!

One new display will be a wall of photos in an empty store window — and it seems we have some this year. Several years ago on a trip to see my mom, my sister and I went to a local florist to buy flowers for Mother’s Day. The shop was housed in a former shoe store. Remember how huge shoe store windows used to be back in the days of downtown shopping? Well, the floral ladies had one whole window filled with veterans’ pictures. It was awesome! Soldier photographs clear back to the civil war — large, small, color, tinted, black and white, cabinet photos, tin types, Kodak snapshots, 8-by-10 photos in art deco frames, this flower shop had them all. Each was identified and there were also some medals, letters, and flags from appropriate eras interspersed with the photos. It was a heart stopper!

We would like to feature our Marion County veterans in the same way. So we are requesting your family service photos … any conflict from the Civil War to the present. It doesn’t matter if you grew up here or if your parents were early pioneers, recent transplants, or if they never lived here. If they served (one or both of them) we want to display their pictures. The Mister and I moved here in August of 1970, but our parents never lived here. Both of our fathers served in Europe during World War II. We will be putting their photos in the display.

What’s His Name, our son-in-law, has posted pictures and information about the upcoming celebration on the Internet, including Facebook. One photograph from the 2008 celebration shows veterans on a tram that transported them in the parade. It is hard to see everyone on the tram, but of those visible on the side that is pictured, five or six have died.

I find this astounding. The world is turning way too fast, but time stops for no one. Before long the rest of our parents’ generation will no longer be around. Now there is a wake-up call.

You can help us honor them while they are still with us. Bring a photograph of your veteran to me at the newspaper office, 113 N. Walnut, Peabody, or take it to What’s His Name at the city office and we will get your veteran into the Window of Heroes. PLEASE make sure that you attach or include your name and contact information so we can get the pictures back to you, the name of the veteran, his or her community (remember, we want this to be countywide), branch of service, rank, and theater or country of service.

If you can get the photographs to us, we will see that they get back to you. If you have questions or concerns call What’s His Name (Shane Marler) at the city office, (620) 983-2174, or me at the newspaper office (620) 983-2185 or at home (620) 983-2771. Please leave a message if necessary.

There are not going to be many more years to thank these veterans for the freedom they defended for us. Let’s do it now. There may not be a tomorrow.

— Susan Marshall

Last modified April 15, 2010

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