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Small southwest Missouri town displays large heart for veterans - KOAM TV 7

Small southwest Missouri town displays large heart for veterans in special Memorial Day service

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STELLA, MO - A four-state town of just more than 170 people pays a large tribute to our nation's veterans.

A special Memorial Day ceremony was held in Stella, MO this morning, a small farming community with a large heart.

"The community here is extremely supportive of our veterans," said Claire Swatosh, veteran. "They built this monument down here, and there's only 176 people in this community."

The Veteran's Memorial in Stella was built eight years ago, funded entirely by private donations.

The annual Memorial Day service held at the site continues to grow each year.

"This has been an ongoing project," said state representative Bill Lant, district 159. "They've done a marvelous job with this park. Every year, there are more and more people that come."

"It's very inspiring," said RJ Bailey, state captain of the Patriot Guard Riders.

State lawmakers in attendance commended the Stella community, and say it's important for all veterans to receive special honor and recognition, especially those who have fallen.

"I think what I like the best is the bricks," said state representative Bill Reiboldt, district 160. "We put a lot of bricks here for a lot of people in my area, over around Neosho and Granby."

"Memorial Day, in my opinion, is one of the best holidays that we have the opportunity to celebrate because America is good because of the men and women who have served in the military," said state representative Charlie Davis, district 162. "This is the day that we can honor the memories of the men and women who have fallen, who have paid that ultimate sacrifice."

The veterans who took part say the ceremony holds much meaning.

"There's no communities around that support the veterans the way this little bitty town does," Swatosh said. "How can your heart not be into it?"

Stella is located 17 miles southeast of Neosho, MO.

Veterans across Newton County are eligible to purchase an engraved brick at the Stella Veteran's Memorial.
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