It was cold, windy and wet in the trenches late Thursday afternoon as Iowa weather turned back toward winter, but that didn't stop World War II veterans Harlan Ranshaw (left) and Ed Goben from planting a tree, assisted by Chariton Boy Scouts, at the site of Lucas County's new Veteran's Memorial Park.
Ranshaw is 89 and jokes that his goal is to become the oldest surviving World War II veteran. Goben, however, has him beat at 95 --- and recently renewed his drivers license.
The Scouts went on to plant three more trees on the old jail lot, site of the memorial, as a program marking the event --- as well as the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's end --- continued nearby.
A good crowd turned out in spite of the weather to hear re-enactor Terry Fenoglio talk a little about the final days of the war, which for practical purposes ended with Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Earl Comstock, principal organizer of Thursday's program, is at right.
Then Jenny Roach, Cody Currie and Kaylee Goodson read the names of the 131 men from Lucas County who died while in service between 1861 and 1865.
Legionnaires from Russell's Charlie Clark Post No. 308 and Chariton's Carl L. Caviness Post No. 102 provided a salute.
And then Adam Bahr concluded the program with "Taps" before the crowd packed Legion Club rooms across the street for coffee and cookies.
The memorial committee, coordinated by Legionnaires, hopes to raise sufficient funds to commission a "Freedom Rock," one many painted across Iowa in recent years by Ray Sorensen II, of Des Moines, and also is in the market for a 30- to 40-ton boulder with considerable height to be used as his canvas. Anyone who wishes to make donations --- or who might have a suitable rock in the back 40 --- may call Comstock at (641) 774-4406.