You gotta appreciate a guy like Howard Homeier.
Sunday afternoon I saw him toolin’ west on Minnesota Highway 60 through downtown Kenyon in his dark green 1951 or 1952 Chevy pickup (he’s not sure which year), flag a wavin’ from the truck.
Mounted to the front bumper, secured inside a special frame he built, a sign proclaimed “Liberate Iraq. Support Our Troops. Call Your Congressperson!”
Now this was a guy I just had to meet.
So when Howard steered the vehicle left and pulled in across from the VFW, I was there waiting, expecting some young redneck to spring out of the pickup.
Instead, I got Howard, a World War II veteran and member of the Kenyon Veterans’ Color Guard. Maybe Howard’s a redneck, maybe not. Doesn’t matter.
What matters is that Howard served in the U.S. Army during World War II, in the China Burma India Theater. I think I’ve got that right. When we were chatting, I was without my notebook and pen. Howard found a dried up pen and scrounged a 2002 Kenyon Lumber Mart receipt from the glove box so I could etch his name onto the scrap of paper. Hey, whatever works. I wanted to get this Kenyon veteran’s name spelled correctly.
Howard obliged my request for photos, even letting me crawl inside his pickup so I could photograph the small poppy-topped American flag that protrudes from the Chevy’s ashtray.
He apologized for his messy truck. I didn’t care, didn’t even see much of a mess, only a cracked, well-worn seat, a big old steering wheel and that flag displayed by one patriotic veteran.
The flag has been inside his truck for quite some time, Howard said, and the “Support Our Troops” sign in place for three-plus years now. He’s pretty darn proud of it, but was quick to share that not everyone appreciates his viewpoint. He drove his pickup to a nearby country church, he said, and was asked by the pastor to remove the sign. Can’t have that in the church parking lot, the reverend said.
“What did you do?” I asked.
“What could I do?” he replied. “Took it off.”
Right then and there I wanted to find that clergyman and tell him a thing or two about respecting men like Howard who’ve faithfully served our country. But I kept quiet, because I didn’t want to stir up trouble. And, given we live in a free country, the pastor is entitled to his opinion too. But I could tell the whole incident bothered Howard, a lot.
Then this WW II veteran showed me two laminated cards, both paying tribute to soldiers like him. “Field of Honor. This Flag is in Honor of Howard Homeier,” one card read. Howard had just come from a ceremony at the Kenyon Veterans Memorial Park, where 201 American flags were flown over the weekend during the town’s annual Rose Fest.
He was beaming, this patriotic WW II veteran, this American who supports our troops.
© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
(Watch for upcoming blogs about the “Field of Honor” at Kenyon Veterans Memorial Park and about this Goodhue County community’s celebration of Rose Fest.)