In the spring of 200l, newly appointed Alexis Postmaster Dale Tate began collecting pictures of local area servicemen for display to promote the commemorative stamp â€œHonoring our Servicemen and Women.â€ Today this exhibit has grown from about 20 photographs to 76 photographs of Alexis area men and women in uniform. This popular display became even more meaningful after September ll.
The Alexis community had five men who were killed in action â€“Ivey Stroupe- WWI, Charles Abernathy- WWII, Otto Hovis- WWII, Roy Stroupe- Korea, and Wayne Vernon -Vietnam.
â€œI had heard of these heroes all my life. It was wonderful to put a face with these men who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Wayne Vernonâ€™s photo was taken in Vietnam just a few days before he was killed. One of his buddies sent it to his family some thirty years later,â€ says Tate who has lived in Alexis all her life.
The display covers servicemen Horace McGinnis, who fought in World War I, to Michael Overkamp who fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Some photos are old and faded, others are protected and new. Some are professional, others are Brownie snapshots. All are precious.
â€œI asked people I knew who had been in service, to bring me a photo of them in uniform. If they didnâ€™t respond, I got in touch with their wives, mothers, or sisters who were quicker to respond,â€ she said. â€œOne lady in the community, Jimmie Stroupe supplied about ten photos, servicemen she had supported during the war.â€
Each photograph has a special story behind it. There is a snapshot of a young Dean Cloninger taken on the morning he was flown to Vietnam. He was awarded the Bronze Star during his tour, but never told how he earned it.
Another serviceman, Chaplin Harry Hand, was part of the high-level meeting to discuss dropping the atomic bomb. He stated that the mood was very somber, but he had held too many young men as they died in combat and knew that bombing would end the war more quickly.
To this day when people look at the Serviceman Display, theyâ€™re reminded that â€˜Freedom Is Not Freeâ€™ and should be thankful to live in this country where freedom is cherished and protected.
Please join the Alexis post office for Customer Appreciation Day on Tuesday, May 31. Enjoy the display and congratulate Postmaster Dale Tate for 25 years of postal service in her home town.
by Special to the LTN