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There’s always time to research veterans

By Staff | Nov 15, 2013

Just like that, Veterans Day came and went. Unfortunately, we’re conditioned by various media to start thinking about the next holiday, especially if it’s got strong commercial value.

That doesn’t mean we have to.

Veterans DAY provides an annual reminder to reflect on the sacrifice offered by many brave men and women who defend our country. But, Veterans Day provides an opportunity to do much more.

Remember to honor the veterans of all wars, recent or long ago. Remember to thank those still in uniform, whether it’s someone you grew up with or a stranger you may encounter at random. Don’t know any veterans? Do some research on the history of veterans in your hometown, county or state.

You may be surprised by how important military service has been to your community. Or you may be able to help others by sharing history learned from your own family. The commitment made by our veterans is a lifelong commitment that should be mirrored by our lifelong reverence.

Let’s educate ourselves about the rich history of service in our area and not just for one week in November.

When I first roamed the halls of the Pierce County Tribune, I flipped through the 1944 volume just to see what the newspaper looked like then. I stopped on March 2 because of a headline on the front page: “Rugby Woman Has Six Sons In Service Of Their Country”.

“Wow,” I thought. “They might’ve represented a significant percentage of Rugby men in service.” Maybe not. North Dakota has always been well represented in the military and currently has the highest percentage of residents serving of any state. Either way, six is a huge number from one family.

The woman was Mrs. Anna Heitsch, the widow of Henry Heitsch, and a picture of her was surrounded by six smaller mug shots of her sons in uniform. At the time, five of the boys were in the army: Pvt. Adiel, 40; Pvt. Gordon, 32; Sgt. Hugo, 28; Pfc. Roland, 27; and Lt. Chester, 26. John W., 19, was an Apprentice Seaman in the navy. One served in England, one in New Guinea, the youngest was at bootcamp in Farragut, Idaho.

The short, unattributed article, published while L.H. Bratton was editor and publisher of the Tribune, honored both the men and their mother. Strong family support is always a crucial component for our enlisted men and women.

The author’s last paragraph read: “It is practically a full-time job for the mother to keep up her correspondence with her sons and to keep the Tribune posted on the boys’ latest change of address. Often she apologizes for taking so much of our time. It would seem that she would never again need to apologize for anything she gets in these good old United States. The country’s debt to her will never be paid.”

I’m curious what became of the brothers and hope to hear from any readers with knowledge of this remarkable American family from Rugby.

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