Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,


Over the past few weeks I have seen posts on social media and articles in the local newspaper about the disrespect to the Fallon County Veterans Memorial and the American flag. They had to do with the placement of a POW/MIA monument at which seems to be a place of honor and remembrance for all branches of the service and Veterans from Fallon County. I know first hand the hundreds of hours spent over the last nine years establishing and maintaining this magnificent memorial.

Tom McGonigal and Drury Phebus had a vision to establish a memorial for Fallon County Veterans.

The Director of the Smart office was contacted and Mona Madler began research on the names to be included on the wall that exists today.

Many articles and requests for any information were placed in the paper for names of Veterans to be placed on that wall.

Now it appears that there are blisters showing up after all the hard work is done.

I am appalled by all the negativity and twisting of facts so I wish to state some facts of my own.

The Veterans Memorial is located at McClain Park in Baker, Mont. The space was donated by the City of Baker. Fallon County along with personal donors helped fund the project. It is not Federal property, or a military institution, school or public building; it is a place of honor and should be recognized as such.

Research was conducted on any protocol when designing the memorial. Proper etiquette and standards of respect were what was to be adhered to for civilian use.

The American flag is to be at a place of prominence; it is to be the highest if flown with other flags.

The State flag and the POW/MIA flag fly 6” below the American Flag at the Memorial.

The flag code formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag of the United States of America.

We should all know these rules, but I am going to allude to one that seems to be over shadowed by a certain individual’s own agenda. When the flag of the United States of America is so worn it is not fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner. Commander, please note the condition of the American Flag displayed above the Post in which you are in charge of!!

MCA 1-1-541 has other parts that you left out. Section 1 of that code of Montana states: “The display of the POW/MIA symbolizes Montana’s concern and commitment to achieving the fullest accounting of US Military personnel”.

Fallon County installing a monument, not only a flag, seems to have gone over and above the resolution signed by the Governor and been placed with the highest regard to all veterans.

I want to clear some other things up as well. Placement of the POW/MIA is not in a flawed area. The area in which the monument sits was an area that previously had dirt around the flag poles, rains and watering of the flowers which were planted was getting onto the sidewalk and the monument. It was decided to fill that area with concrete and to eliminate damage to the veterans’ wall and resolve maintenance issues.

When it was brought to the Fallon County Commission’s attention that there was an issue with the placement of the POW/MIA monument, the manufacturer of the monument was contacted and they stated that moving the monument and reattaching it could cause damage to the structural integrity of the monument. Secondly: The previous article regarding this matter states that there were individuals who are not on the wall. I am challenging you to take the initiative and have them added with the funds that are available to do so.

Henry N Benoit, I thank you for your service, but your home of record is Ekalaka, MT (Carter County) therefore your name unfortunately did not make the list for the Fallon County Veterans Memorial.

There is a quote from the article that States: there should never have been an issue of one memorial being superior to the other. That is very correct!!!

When it was decided by the Legion Post 35 to turn the Memorial over to Fallon County, at what point did that mean excluded from participation or decisions that are made regarding the memorial or any other matter involving you as a citizen of Fallon County?

Our civic duty to this community is to be involved and work with our elected officials, board members and organizations. Not complain about their efforts after the fact. It is very easy to criticize and second guess decisions made by people trying to do the right thing. When we as individuals are not proactive and involved in the solution, we do have the right to remain silent.

In Closing: Thank you Tom and Drury for your vision of a Veterans Memorial. Thank you SMART Director Mona Madler, Fallon County Commissioners, City Of Baker and all who donated or helped in any way for making that vision a reality.

I am very proud to be an American. I truly appreciate All service Men and Women past or present, and I am also proud of the Fallon County Veterans Memorial as it exists.


Richard J. Madler