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Gage County community joins forces to build memorial honoring local veterans
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Gage County community joins forces to build memorial honoring local veterans


PICKRELL — Three dark, sparkling granite slabs are engraved with the names of 163 veterans, all hailing from this small Gage County town and the surrounding area.

The granite pieces are part of a veterans memorial that will be dedicated Sunday with a church service, lunch and opening ceremony.

“It’s been an honor to work on the project,” Marilyn Schlake said of the memorial’s planning committee. “Volunteers from the community put a lot of time and effort in and even donated equipment (for the construction).”

The town's annual Pickrell Picnic celebration begins Saturday, with a water slide, fire truck rides and a street dance among the events planned.

The memorial's opening ceremony will start at 11 a.m. Sunday, four days after the 74th anniversary of D-Day.

A community luncheon will follow the opening ceremony and is open to all visitors, Schlake said. After a dedication, people are welcome to stay and listen to a performance by the Southern Cross Band.

The idea for a community memorial was formulated in 2014, when Melvin Winkle and other Pickrell veterans expressed interest in having something in the area to honor fallen and living military members.

It took two years to raise the $80,000-$90,000 needed to construct the memorial, Winkle said. Pickrell, pop. 197, is 13 miles north of Beatrice.

“For a small town, (the memorial) is a nice one — it’s a real beauty,” said Winkle, who served on a U.S. Navy destroyer from 1950 to 1954, during the Korean War. “This is a big thing for me and all of the veterans.”

The dedication Sunday will include presentations of flags, the national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance and a 21-gun salute.

The memorial consists of a large, black granite-etched mural, with the saying “All gave some ... some gave all.” A gray tower features five crests representing the branches of the military.

A brick sidewalk surrounds a silver star and leads to the three slabs of black granite adorned with the names of veterans from the Pickrell area. Three benches honor other military members.

Pavers surround the area and include the names of sponsors and dedications to veterans with messages from family members.

The memorial has room for 25 names to be added to the granite pieces. Veterans must have a connection to the Pickrell area.

The committee compiled the initial list of names by drawing from records of a Pickrell church, along with a Beatrice connection with a book of local veterans.

“The veterans here need a recognition for their services,” said planning committee member Larry Remmers.

Remmers, who served two tours on U.S. Navy aircraft carriers from 1966 to 1970 during the Vietnam War, will be the caretaker of the memorial’s flags. 

Schlake said there are no living veterans from the Pickrell area with ties to D-Day, but there are some who are being honored that died within the last few years.

The memorial in the city park will be a place to remember veterans and those who have sacrificed their lives, she said.

“I have family who have served, and are currently serving,” Schlake said. “This is a very nice memorial to support them in a town of 200 people.”

Remembering the sacrifice: Images of D-Day

Reach the writer at 402-473-7214 or


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City desk intern

Summer 2018 city desk intern for the Journal Star.

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