St. Paul seniors organize military memorial service

Cary Ashby • Sep 8, 2018 at 6:00 PM

St. Paul High School seniors Rachel Beat and Anne Ware are seeking the names of local soldiers who have died in battle, active military personnel and veterans.

Beat and Ware have organized a memorial service at 1 p.m. Tuesday at St. Paul Cemetery, 55 S. West St., for their senior project. They will read the names of fallen soldiers as well those of veterans and active personnel.

If you have a family member or friend who lost their life while fighting for our country, is a veteran or is actively serving, email [email protected] so their names can be read aloud.

“My brother is in the military and dad is a veteran,” said Beat, who was considering “some type of memorial,” community involvement and that conversation with Ware led to honoring veterans. “It was something close to both of our hearts.”

Robert Beat was in the U.S. Air Force, where his son is serving currently. Rachel Beat’s mother is Carrie.

The students have compiled their list of soldiers from St. Paul and a list posted in the school. The two also have received feedback via email, the St. Paul Catholic Church bulletins and community members.

Ware, the daughter of Robert and Lynette, helped the American Legion get involved.

“My grandpa (Charles Ware) is the commissioner there, so they invited us to a meeting one night,” she said. “Rachel and I presented it. We presented the idea, why we were passionate about it and why we wanted to do this. They were very generous; they ended up giving us a donation.”

Through that donation, Ware and Beat purchased a stone memorial that honors fallen soldiers. On Thursday, Jeremy Ninke and Ralph Bolyard, of Balconi Monuments Inc., placed it in the gravel bed that surrounds the American flag at the rear of St. Paul Cemetery.

Beat and Ware’s senior project blossomed into something much larger than what they first imagined.

“Our project originally just started out as very small and just actually cleaning the cemetery and doing some maintenance work,” Beat said. “We completed that and we basically were hungry for doing more and that’s where the whole memorial came into place and the service to go along with it.”

There will be a donation box at the memorial Tuesday.

“Any money that (we get) will go to Soldiers’ Angels, which is an organization that we found that gives a lot back to veterans, (those) wounded (and their) families — just everyone involved (in the military). That was one good thing we wanted to give back to,” Beat said.

She and Ware said they were looking for an organization that gives a high percentage of its proceeds to the military and found that with Soldiers’ Angels. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the non-profit organization says on its website it “provides aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, their families and a growing veteran population” — often through care packages, hygiene kits and box lunches.

“They weren’t keeping a lot themselves. That spoke (to us) a lot more than organizations who only give 10 percent, which isn’t much when it really comes down to it,” Beat said.

The students appreciate everything the American Legion has done for them.

“We were planning on having (the service) earlier in August, but we teamed up with the American Legion and overall they have just been a great partner for us. We started rolling ideas around and they actually mentioned 9-11 … and it would be more meaningful for people (to do it then),” Beat said.

Ware wants the community to remember veterans at times other than the 9-11 anniversary and Memorial Day.

“People get really amped up about our soldiers (then), but on other days of the year it just kinda all fades away; we forget their service and their commitment to our country and to us. This is just one way we can bring it back (and) remind people freedom really isn’t free,” she said.

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