Jackson grads who died in World War II honored

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

JACKSON, Mo. -- Ten Jackson High School graduates who gave their lives in World War II were honored in a Memorial Day service at the Jackson City Cemetery Monday.

"It's kind of a remembrance of the old-timers," said Wilbur Peetz of Jackson. "I went to school with one of them. I think it's a real good deal to get some of these people known."

The lives of Jackson High graduates Edmund Landgraf, Weldon Propst, Odus Litzelfelner, Melvin Kieninger, Norbert Kuecker, Richard Otto Birk, Gilbert Sieck, Max Randol, Bill Deck and Lyman Watkins were honored during the ceremony. About 70 people attended.

The service was also held to rededicate a cabinet that was presented to Jackson High School by the graduating class of 1945.

The cabinet, marked with the names of the 10 graduates, was refinished under the direction of Joe Smith of American Legion Althenthal-Joerns Post 158. Only the name plates, which were beginning to fade after 57 years, were changed, Smith said.

The cabinet will be displayed in the school's front foyer. Jackson High School principal Rick McClard hopes that students will see the cabinet and appreciate the sacrifices that were made and the lives that were lost to preserve our way of life.

The Jackson Municipal Band, led by Nick Leist, opened the ceremony with several patriotic tunes, including a sing-along, before ending with "Stars and Stripes Forever."

"We had wonderful attendance, the weather cooperated and Joe Smith and his committee did a great job," said Richard Aguilar, commander of American Legion Post 158.

After the band finished, several members of Post 158 read off the names of the fallen soldiers and briefly discussed their lives and military careers.

"I just think we have to remember relatives and our friends in this community," Aguilar said. "They're the ones that sacrificed their lives to make our lives better. I think Jackson will always remain a unified community."

McClard said that with recent Jackson High School graduates now stationed in Afghanistan, the younger generation is learning how important the sacrifices these soldiers made were.

"We are seeing a rise in patriotism in our high schools," he said. "Our students are really proud to be American."

Carol Revelle, niece of Weldon Propst, said that ceremonies like the one in Jackson will keep fallen soldiers from being forgotten.

"It's important so we know what they died for, so it won't happen again," she said.

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