Remembering heroes from WWI
Inside this issue of the Faribault County Register is a copy of our annual Our Heroes magazine. It is published once a year, right around Veterans Day, and it is our annual salute to those men and women from Faribault County who have served our country by being in the military.
This is the 16th year the magazine has been published. I was not here for the first four, but these last 12 have been one of my favorite projects while editor of the Register.
This year was no different.
Each year there is at least one story that I totally get immersed in. This year it was the story about Charlie and Paul Hadlick of Blue Earth. Both brothers fought in World War I, with Charlie being killed in action.
I became fascinated with the story about Charlie Hadlick, and found myself trying to think about what he did and thought about in his short, 25-year life.
Life was difficult back in 1918 for Charlie Hadlick. His father had died young and Charlie had to quit school and go to work to support the family.
Then he was called up to join the Army in June of 1918 and sent off to war, where he was killed just four months later. And sadly, his death came just days before the Armistice was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918.
I found his grave in the Catholic Calvary Cemetery, (which is located right next to the Riverside Cemetery) in Blue Earth. I spent a little time at his grave, thinking about his life, which had ended 100 years earlier almost exactly to the day I was at his grave. It was a strange feeling, out in the cemetery on a cold, overcast October day, as the sun was setting in the west. Not creepy strange, but rather a strange somber moment, thinking about his death and the military funeral complete with horse-drawn hearse that drove through Blue Earth to the spot where I now stood.
As a note, the photo of his gravestone which is in the Our Heroes magazine, is not the one I took that cold October day. His grave marker has become discolored and worn and is very hard to read. The photo in the magazine was furnished by his family and was taken a few years ago.
That leads to another note I need to make.
It is sometimes very difficult to write a story about a person who died 100 years ago. Often there is not a lot of information about the person’s life or death, other than the bare facts or just the obituary in the newspaper.
But I got lucky with Charlie Hadlick. His nephew, Bob Zelenka of Eagan, had a lot of family history, on both Charlie and his brother Paul.
There is also a book about Faribault County’s involvement in World War I that local historian A. B. Russ let me borrow. It is a fascinating book about the Great War and lists a photo and short write up about every Faribault County resident who served in the war. It even lists all 4,000-plus persons from Faribault County who were signed up in the Selective Service draft during the war. It also has photos and lists of all the people who served in some way back home.
To top it all off, there are several pages that list every major event in World War I in chronological order. Hundreds of them.
It is a fascinating book, to say the least. And, obviously, I took a lot of information for the story in the Our Heroes magazine about Faribault County’s participation in the war from that book.
We purposely decided that we would dedicate much of this issue of Our Heroes to World War I, since it is the 100th anniversary of the end of that war.
The names of those World War I veterans and the 36 Faribault County men killed in the war are not as well-known as those who served in more recent wars. But, their service and sacrifice was just as important.
And, if you have never noticed it before (and I will admit I had not paid attention to it) there is a very large bronze plaque inside the Faribault County Courthouse that lists all the names of the hundreds of men from Faribault County who served in that war 100 years ago. If you have time, take a look. Then find the 36 names which have stars next to them and remember that they are the 36 who were killed in action.
This Veterans Day we should take special care to remember those 36 brave young men, as well as all the others who have, and still are, serving our country.
I will pause to remember my two favorite veterans. My father, Charles Hunt, who served 21 years in the Navy, mainly on submarines, and my uncle Herbert Mueller, who was killed in World War II.
I am sure you will pause and remember your family’s heroes, as well.