Stadium Honors Soldiers

1 decade 11 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, June 28 2007 Jun 28, 2007 Thursday, June 28, 2007 5:51:00 PM CDT June 28, 2007 in News

Hermann is known for its German ancestry, and today it's known for its vinyards and hospitality. It's hospitality that comes from a tight-knit community.

"In a small town, I think it's especially difficult because we know each other so very well," Superintendent Chris Neale said.

Just over two years ago, the talk of this small community was focused around Erik Heldt, who died while serving in Iraq.

Erik did more than go to school and play football in Hermann.

"Erik Heldt was a volunteer in the volunteer program as I was the director out there, and each of them gave of themselves freely, and were truly examples for all of the younger kids," Sharon Meyer, city administrator secretary, said.

When the high school got a new football field, family and friends wanted it named after Erik.

"Okay, if we name it after Erik Heldt, and somebody's killed tomorrow who has the same kind of community backing and support, what can we do then?" school board member Carl Pierce said.

When not everyone agreed, the school board simply called it Memorial Stadium, and later agreed upon a memorial area at the edge of the field.

"Probably the very best thing that could have come out of it did - that we provide an opportunity for our community to remember not only Erik, but any and all people, whether civilian or military, who have had a positive impact on this school," Neale said.

And Hermann started with a pretty long list.

"All together there were probably 25 total that were nominated. Some of the applications were not complete enough to be able to make a decision. The committee kind of looked and said, 'Well, you know we've got four, let's go with four,'" Pierce said.

The architectural plans include the names of those remembered on bricks, three granite posts bearing the words honor, history and service, and two "l" shaped benches facing the memorial, which could attract year-round visits. The other three honorees are Charlie Paige, Carol Binkholder and Steve Bedsull. They plan to add names to the memorial each year, and the Bearcat's home opener on Sept. 7 marks the unveiling of the memorial.

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