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When service members pass through this small town in Nebraska, the community comes together to thank them.
‘We were overwhelmed,” said Lt. Col. Nick Jaskolski. “I don’t really have words to describe how surprised and moved we all were. I had never even heard of the town before.”
Col. Jaskolski, a veteran of the Iraq war, is commander of the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard. For three weeks earlier this summer, the 142nd had been conducting an emergency deployment readiness exercise in Wyoming, training and sleeping outdoors, subsisting on field rations. Now it was time for the 700 soldiers to return to their base.
A charter bus company had been hired for the 18-hour drive back to Arkansas. The Army had budgeted for a stop to get snacks. The bus company determined that the soldiers would reach North Platte, in western Nebraska, around the time they would likely be hungry. The company placed a call to the visitors’ bureau: Was there anywhere in town that could handle a succession of 21 buses, and get 700 soldiers in and out for a quick snack?
North Platte said yes. North Platte has always said yes.
During World War II, North Platte was a geographically isolated town of 12,000. Soldiers, sailors and aviators on their way to fight the war rode troop trains across the nation, bound for Europe via the East Coast or the Pacific via the West Coast. The Union Pacific Railroad trains that transported the soldiers always made 10-minute stops in North Platte to take on water.
The townspeople made those 10 minutes count. Starting in December 1941, they met every train: up to 23 a day, beginning at 5 a.m. and ending after midnight. Those volunteers greeted between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers a day. They presented them with sandwiches and gifts, played music for them, danced with them, baked birthday cakes for them. Every day of the year, every day of the war, they were there at the depot. They never missed a train, never missed a soldier. They fed six million soldiers by the end of the war. Not 1 cent of government money was asked for or spent, save for a $5 bill sent by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The soldiers never forgot the kindness. Most of them, and most of the townspeople who greeted them, are dead. And now, in 2018, those 21 busloads from the 142nd Field Artillery were on their way, expecting to stop at some fast-food joint.
“We couldn’t believe what we saw when we pulled up,” Col. Jaskolski said. As each bus arrived over a two-day period, the soldiers stepped out to be greeted by lines of cheering people holding signs of thanks. They weren’t at a fast-food restaurant: They were at North Platte’s events center, which had been opened and decorated especially for them.
“People just started calling our office when they heard the soldiers were on their way,” said Lisa Burke, the director of the visitors’ bureau. “Hundreds of people, who wanted to help.”
The soldiers entered the events center to the aroma of steaks grilling and the sound of recorded music: current songs by Luke Bryan, Justin Timberlake, Florida Georgia Line; World War II songs by Glenn Miller, the Andrews Sisters, Jimmy Dorsey. They were served steak sandwiches, ham sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, deviled eggs, salads and fruit; local church groups baked pies, brownies and cookies.
Mayor Dwight Livingston stood at the door for two days and shook every soldier’s hand. Mr. Livingston served in the Air Force in Vietnam and came home to no words of thanks. Now, he said, as he shook the hands and welcomed the soldiers, “I don’t know whether those moments were more important for them, or for me. I knew I had to be there.”
“It was one soldier’s 21st birthday,” Lisa Burke said. “When I gave him his cake, he told me it was the first birthday cake he’d ever had in his life.” Not wanting to pry, she didn’t ask him how that could possibly be. “I was able to hold my emotions together,” she said. “Until later.”
When it became time to settle up—the Army, after all, had that money budgeted for snacks—the 142nd Field Artillery was told: Nope. You’re not spending a penny here. This is on us.
This is on North Platte.
Originally published in the Wall Street Journal – https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-soldier-never-forgets-north-platte-1532289711
The MINNESOTA GOPHERS VOLLEYBALL open their 2018 season hosting the BIG TEN/ACC CHALLENGE, August 24th-25th at Target Center. Wisconsin and North Carolina return for this year’s event, while Florida State joins the fifth-annual challenge in 2018. Two matches will be held on both August 24 and 25 as the Gophers and Badgers face UNC and FSU in four total matches. The Gophers face Florida State on Friday, August 24, followed by North Carolina on Saturday, August 25.
To purchase a General Admission Weekend Pass for $35 (Includes Two Total tickets: One Ticket For Both Games On Friday and One Ticket For Both Games On Saturday) as well as save families the fees which they would have to pay if they purchased tickets through another site, please click on this link: http://bit.ly/b10_acc_challenge_military
The Arcades are back at the Hamel VFW on Saturday, August 11th playing their great classic rock from 7:00-11:00 pm. Food from 5:00-8:00 pm. Enjoy dinner and dance to The Arcades. These guys are really good if you haven’t heard them before!! Bring some friends and we’ll see you there. Call for reservations if you have a large group.
In July, 2018 Plymouth Beyond the Yellow Ribbon was able to track down valuable information for a family involved in college search. There is a Department of Defense Yellow Ribbon Program for Colleges and significant cost savings are possible if families qualify for this program. This article discusses the program and the military family was appreciative that PBYR was able to promptly respond and help: https://www.military.com/education/gi-bill/the-yellow-ribbon-program-explained.html
The Yellow Ribbon program is designed to help students avoid up to 100% of their tuition.
Gary Goldetsky, Psy.D, LP, President, Plymouth Beyond the Yellow Ribbon
The Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health (MACMH) is looking for parents and professionals to participate in an upcoming focus group. The purpose of this activity is to gain insight and feedback into the online children’s mental health content that MACMH will soon be offering.
Please join us at the MACMH offices, 23 Empire Drive, STE.1000, 1-3pm, Saturday, August, 11th from 1-3pm. Light snacks will be offered and gift card drawings will be held. If you are a children’s mental health professional or a parent/caregiver of a child that has a mental health diagnosis and would like to participate, please register here.
Please fee free to contact me at the information below with any clarification needed or questions!
Thank you for the consideration!
Director/Development and Programming
Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health
23 Empire Drive, Ste. 1000
St. Paul, MN 55103
I am pleased to announce that the Plymouth Lions just donated $8,000 to PBYR!!! The Plymouth Lions have consistently helped support the PBYR mission since 2011. On behalf of PBYR, I wish to acknowledge our sincere appreciation to the Plymouth Lions for their partnership, friendship and Trust over the years.
**The Plymouth Lions are clearly an inspiration to all with their efforts to do service and good in our community with the type of projects that they support. Please hug a Plymouth Lion!!!
Gary Goldetsky, Psy.D, LP, President, Plymouth Beyond the Yellow Ribbon
The Hamel VFW is hosting a post-rodeo Dinner & Dance Saturday, July 14th. Food served 5:00-8:00 pm with music from 7:00- 11:00. The Band Tailspin will be on stage playing their country rock. What a great way to kick back after a long rodeo week! Rose will be serving her humongous hamburgers along pulled pork sandwiches. So put on your cowboy hat one more time and join us at the Hamel VFW.
19020 Hamel Rd.
Plymouth, MN 55446
I just wanted to pass on an exciting event we are having in Carver County to help and support our county veterans — we have partnered with MACV to raise funds to help support our county veterans through a golf tournament — I’m excited about this opportunity because we are looking at this event to help reach out into our communities and show people about the needs of our veterans and how we help — if you’re a Golfer and would like to participate please go online and register to play — The tournament will be held at the Deer Run Golf Course in Victoria MN on August 30, 2018. For additional info please see the PDF below.– Thank you!!!