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A dream to honor local veterans with a memorial in BE leads to the Last Ride

By Staff | Aug 23, 2015

Terry Keithahn has been working toward his dream of building a Veterans Memorial in Blue Earth honoring all Faribault County veterans. He will be holding a fundraiser called The Last Ride on Sept. 12.

Terry Keithahn has a dream build a Veterans Memorial in Blue Earth that would honor all Faribault County veterans, especially those killed in action in the line of duty.

On Monday night, Aug. 3, Keithahn was at the Blue Earth City Council meeting with two requests.

The first was to ask that the block of Sixth Street, from Main to Nicollet, be blocked off for one day and night.

That block is in front of the American Legion Post 89 in Blue Earth.

“We are planning a big event to start off the fundraising for the new memorial,” Keithahn says. “It will be held on Saturday, Sept. 12.”

The event will be called “The Last Ride” and will start off with a motorcycle/car ride around the county.

Registration will start at 9:30 a.m. with the ride beginning at 11 a.m. There will be a $20 donation per car/bike for the ride.

But, there is much more than just the ride. There will also be a silent auction from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., a bean bag tournament beginning at 12 noon, a meal (with free will donation) starting at 5:30 p.m., and a live auction starting at 7 p.m.

And if that is not enough excitement, there will be a street dance starting at 8:30 p.m. and featuring the band “69 Cents.” There is a $5 cover charge for the dance.

The City Council agreed to let the street be blocked off in front of the Legion for the whole day on Sept. 12 and into the morning hours of Sept. 13.

The council also approved a temporary outside liquor license to the Legion, to sell drinks during the dance.

Keithahn’s second request to the council was for ideas of where to locate a new Veterans Memorial in Blue Earth.

“I had looked at some private land by Highway 169 and I-90, but it was selling for $10,000 per acre,” he said. “And I need three acres.”

Councilman Glenn Gaylord questioned why he needed the three acres, and Keithahn said he wanted to be sure to have enough space for whatever size the memorial will become.

“I think we could have hundreds, maybe thousands of names,” he said. “But so far we don’t have an exact drawing of what it could look like.”

Gaylord suggested Keithahn attend the next Parks and Rec Committee meeting, set for Aug. 6, to discuss some city-owned property options.

Keithahn did attend the meeting and one of the options discussed was the Giant Park, land which the city now owns. There is approximately three acres of land behind the statue of the Giant.

It sounds now like the city might sell or give one acre of land behind the Giant statue to the American Legion Post, which would be able to be used for the memorial.

“Right now we are just talking about ideas,” Keithahn says. “This is all just in the planning stages.”

Another idea he said was from Dave Hanson of the Faribault County Veterans Service Office.

“There could be the opportunity to get a tank or helicopter to place as part of the memorial,” Keithahn says. “Working through the Faribault County Veterans Office.”

Keithahn, a veteran himself, says he plans on having names placed on the memorial at no charge to the servicemen or women or their families.

“This is to show our support for the veterans who served our country,” he says. “They served and some gave the ultimate sacrifice, so it is time to honor them.”

Keithahn grew up in Granada and was a 2001 graduate of Granada-Huntley High School.

Before he had even graduated, he had enlisted into the U.S. Army Reserves in 2000. He is now celebrating his 15th year in the Reserves.

During that time he was called to active duty several times, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.

“My last deployment my company served in all three countries Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait,” Keithahn says. “We were told that we were the first company to have served in multiple countries during the same deployment since World War II.”

Now he feels it is time for a memorial that will honor the veterans from all over Faribault County.

“I have been getting some donations from individuals and businesses, both money and merchandise items for the silent and live auctions (at the Sept. 12 event),” he says. “And the Blue Earth motels are giving a discount to anyone who is coming to the fundraiser, if they say they are here for the Last Ride.”

He hopes this “The Last Ride – Support Our Warriors” will have a big turnout and will become an annual event.

“Now I am just praying for some good weather that day,” he says. “We really need a big turnout to make this a successful fundraiser.”