Our favorite project of the year….
It is our favorite project of the year.
It is also the hardest project of the year.
It is often very difficult, takes an enormous amount of time, can be extremely frustrating and is just plain a whole lot of work.
It is also very rewarding and satisfying.
The ‘it’ I am referring to, is, of course, the “Our Heroes” magazine you will find inside this week’s Faribault County Register.
It feels good to get it done. We have been working on it for more than a month or even much longer. And at the end, we still spent most of a weekend finishing it up.
And yet, it is a labor of love. We strive hard to write interesting stories, create meaningful advertising and come up with a great, impressive cover.
It may sound easy, but it isn’t.
There is the selection time, trying to find six interesting veterans whose stories we can write about. And, while every veteran’s service to our country is important, we look for one who not only courageously served the nation, but has a interesting story to tell as well.
We get a lot of help. Sometimes we run across a name from past issues of the Blue Earth newspapers. Sometimes people suggest names to us. Then we also can just plain stumble across someone we heard about during the year.
All that happened this year. Greg Young suggested his father, Renwick. Gordy and Bonnie Miller gave us information on her uncle, John “Jack” Kuhn. A.B. Russ had background on Civil War veteran Edwin Jerome Holly. We got a tip from Heidi Schutt about Jim Wetzler and another tip about Merelyn Evans being on an honor flight and we received some background on Edwin Sasse along with some amazing historical photos of his burial at Riverside Cemetery.
After getting some names and basic information we have to next find out as much as we can about each person. That can be with an actual interview of the veteran, or an interview with his or her family. Sometimes it comes from Google, and seeing if there is and background out there on the Internet. Or sometimes we get background from the person’s obituary, or a past story in a newspaper.
Interviewing a still-living veteran works well. Getting information on a Civil War vet who died over 100 years ago is not so easy. You will notice there is no photo of Edwin Holly to go with the story about him. One probably does not exist, or if it does, it is hidden away in some family memorabilia.
Every year I write two of the stories for the “Our Heroes” magazine. And every year I find myself wrapped up in the lives of the two people I am writing about. This year was no different.
I did research on Edwin Holly for the story, finding out several interesting facts about him. But I also had lots of questions that I could not find answers to. Why did he join the Army when he had a wife and six kids at home? Why did they move to Blue Earth? And, of course, what was it like serving in the final year of the Civil War.
From accounts that I read about other soldiers, it was rough, very rough. The hardships, not to mention the danger, was something that has been described in some detail by others, and it is not pretty.
War never is. And this one had Americans fighting Americans.
Then there was Jack Kuhn. I have heard a lot about Pearl Harbor over the years, and, sure, I saw the movie starring Ben Affleck and a host of others including Jon Voight as President Franklin D. Roosevelt. But to learn about that famous day from someone who was there was truly amazing.
Kuhn was just a regular Minnesota young man from Winnebago, who happened to witness one of the most awful days in U.S. history.
Again, his was a truly incredible story. Some of the information about him came from an interview he did many years ago.
I couldn’t believe how calmly he described the devastation going on around him. And how he came so close to being killed that Sunday morning.
So, from the cover photo shot by Kevin Mertens at a Buccaneer football game, to the six stories about Faribault County heroes, to the ads from area businesses in support for all our veterans, we hope you enjoy this 15th edition of “Our Heroes.”
And, it certainly will not be the last one. There are a lot more heroes out there whose stories we can write about.
I can’t wait to see who we will feature next year.
Now I think I will find some to sit back and relax a little. Maybe I will rent the movie Pearl Harbor on Netflix and see what Jack Kuhn went through that day.
That day that will live in infamy.