While every edition of the BH-FP brings ample opportunities for Polk County pride to shine a little brighter, today’s issue seems to us especially teeming with milestone moments that should make us all beam.
On the front page and inside, we continue our two-edition coverage of Polk County heroes as we mark Veterans Day 2019. Today’s issue includes a feature story detailing one family’s efforts to preserve their late World War II veteran’s letters home and his thoughts from the front, as well as coverage of the annual ceremony Monday on Bolivar’s square.
That particular event has a long history, and this year marked the 100th anniversary of the holiday. Known originally as Armistice Day, it was first celebrated in 1919 — one year to the hour after World War I hostilities formally ended.
The history of the local ceremony at the foot of a life-size American Doughboy, which memorializes Polk Countians who died and honors those who served in WWI, is also long. Its specific roots date back to the statue’s Nov. 11, 1925, unveiling.
Contemporary local newspaper coverage described that day’s festivities as “unusual” with “an elaborate program” — including a Congressman as a principal speaker and “‘Taps’ sounded from the courthouse belfry,” followed by a chorus of “bells, whistles and anvils.” A parade marched through “the entire business sections of the city,” and businesses were closed from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the request of the mayor.
Monday’s ceremony was certainly a more modest affair. No parade was planned, and no bugler ascended to the belfry. But there were plenty of veterans on hand to thank.
And the BH-FP staff was extra privileged to be a part of that decades-long tradition this year. While at least one of us is typically present to cover it, this was the first year in recent memory we had the honor of directly participating.
In recognition of the service of five local surviving WWII veterans — and our appreciation for being able to tell their stories in Saturday’s “Honor lives here” special section — we presented one hero in attendance with framed prints of the special section’s cover and his individual page.
Winter conditions prevented all from being present at the ceremony, which saw an impromptu follow-up gathering at the DAV. But the opportunity to stand formally among those who came out — rain, sleet or shine, as they have done for generations — to salute the WWII veterans and their brothers and sisters in arms is an honor we at the BH-FP will carry with us for a long time.
Meanwhile, today’s newspaper brings with it news of other victories, including on the state’s championship cross country course as both Bolivar and Fair Play secured top state placings Saturday. And in other sports news, Bolivar’s football team will take its undefeated run into a district championship contest Friday in Webb City. Congratulations to the athletes, coaches and their supporters on races well-run and honors well-deserved.
And to all Polk Countians who, by doing what you do, regularly allow us to fill these pages each Wednesday and Saturday with your milestones and victories — thank you for giving us the right to say both honor and pride live here.