Tree a Labor of 'Love'

NEW BREMEN — For New Bremen resident Jacki Love, putting together memorials for local servicemen and women really is a labor of love.

Love started putting organizing different ways to recognize those who are serving in the armed forces a few years ago, and she recently has set up a holiday recognition for them in the form of a Christmas tree, which will be up through the holidays.

“Our boy went to the Navy three years ago,” Love noted. “In August 2009, he deployed to Afghanistan. I got the idea to ask Chief (Doug) Harrod about putting pictures of military guys on the police cars for the Bremenfest parade.”

Love, along with three other local military moms — Pat Meyer, June Linniman and Sharon Howe — collected enough photos where they would need more space than a few police cars.

“We had 15 pictures — enough to cover a fire truck,” Love said.

From there, the mothers have placed the pictures of the servicemen and women in the display windows along Monroe Street, in a frame at Minster Bank in New Bremen and at Que’s Barber Shop.

“They graciously allow me to put the pictures there,” Love said of Dave Kelch at Minster Bank and Keith Quellhorst at Que’s.

The recognition continued with the New Bremen Historic Association’s Christmas Tree Festival located at the Lockkeeper’s House.

“Barb Ziegenbusch called me and told me about the tree festival and asked me if I would want to do a military tree,” Love said.

The white military tree features pictures of those who are serving and of two soldiers who were killed in Iraq.

The following are those who are on the list of Love’s currently recognized military men and women: Brian Naseman, U.S. Army, who was killed in Iraq in May 2009; Phillip Jenkins, U.S. Army, who was killed in Iraq in September 2010; Travis Love, U.S. Navy; Wyatt Howe, U.S. Navy; Nicholas Reynolds, U.S. Air Force; Danny Meyer, U.S. Air Force; Aaron Linniman, U.S. Navy; Marissa Sharp, U.S. Navy; Jon Sharp, U.S. Army; Brian Herriott, U.S. Air Force; Dean Heitkamp, U.S. Army; Gene Schwieterman Jr., U.S. Navy; Dan Wissman, U.S. Army; Doug Wissman, U.S. Air Force; David Dennings, Marines; Jason Rump, U.S. Army; Jacob Wagner, U.S. Navy; Jacob Schlater, U.S. Navy; Brian Wenning, U.S. Navy; Matthew Bell, Marines; Richard Bell, Marines; Melissa Grilliot, U.S. Army; Teri Andreoni, U.S. Army; Ben Phlipot, U.S. Coast Guard; Matt Kremer, U.S. Army; Matt McDermitt, U.S. Navy; Donald Grunden, U.S. Air Force; Austin Minnich, U.S. Army; Anthony Bergman, Marines; Lucas Poppe, U.S. Army; Kris Poppe, U.S. Army; Tony Utz, U.S. Army; Alan Topp, U.S. Navy.

“The tree features the same kids who are at the bank, plus a couple extra,” Love said.

Also this month, Love began a new recognition.

“The week before last, we started a wall at Howell’s IGA,” Love said, noting there is a notice at Howell’s for all residents with someone in their family serving to put their relative on the wall. “In the window, the kids were from New Bremen. At Howell’s, we’re hoping to get more kids from the area. Thank you to Tom Howell for letting us do it.”

The acts of recognition, Love said, help to take her mind off her son, Travis, being gone.

“It takes my mind of things when Travis is out of the country,” she said. “I like doing it, and I couldn’t do it without the other moms — it keeps me busy, and the moms keep us company.”

 We kind of prop each other up when our kids are out of the country.”

She said they are also her way of helping out.

“I like doing it for the kids,” she said. “There’s several churches and several people who box up packages to send to the kids. This is just my thing. I hope it will be a permanent thing that we keep up.”