Honoring Our Heroes

By:  Ian Hest

The town of Fremont is organizing a special way to memorialize fallen Nebraskan soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nebraska honors our troops in ways other places simply don't.  And in Fremont, they line the streets with American flags multiple times a year.  But it's a permanent reminder that's coming to the center of town, that truly honors our heroes.

Drive around Fremont and you're likely to see murals like this one, paying tribute to our troops.

But it's a new one, and perhaps the biggest one, that will hopefully be the most notable.  That's because it will honor the 72 men and women, 5 from here in Lincoln, who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9–11.

Vietnam Veteran, Dave Earnest says, “You're fortunate if you coming out of that situation healthy and wealthy, all of that, but unfortunately every now and then someone has to pay the ultimate sacrifice.”  

Earnest, is the artist for the project.  He said the drawing is more than 2 years in the making, but he always knew he had to do something. “Even then I thought as soon as we're going to be able to honor these people that have given the ultimate sacrifice we're going to do it,” Earnest says. 

The mural will be visible from Highway 77, hanging on the side of the public school administrative building.  But for organizers of the 24 by 12 memorial, it's just important that it's in Fremont, a tribute to Sergeant Phillip Svitak, a Fremont man who was the first Nebraskan casualty after 9–11.  Vern Gibson says, “I get very emotional about it. It's something that I feel very honored to do. And this wall is going to reflect that I hope.”

Organizers hope to have the mural completed next month but they're asking for donations to help assist the project.  You can send them to Nebraska Tribute Mural, PO Box 532, Fremont, NE 68026