A wall at the Fillmore County History Center in Fountain displays a flag made out of stars with the names of veteran ancestors. This wall of honor is being created as a fundraiser for the history center and will continue into the new year until the flag is completed.
A wall at the Fillmore County History Center in Fountain displays a flag made out of stars with the names of veteran ancestors. This wall of honor is being created as a fundraiser for the history center and will continue into the new year until the flag is completed.
Think interest in history is flagging?

Not when your ancestors are the stars.

"Red, white and blue paper stars are available for donations of $1 per star, and you can honor your veteran ancestor by writing his or her name on a star which will be proudly displayed on our Patriot Wall of Honor in the form of a large American flag," explained Fillmore County History (FCHC) Center director Debra Richardson.

This annual fall fundraiser, "Honoring Your Veteran Ancestors," began Nov. 3 and originally was slated to end this past Saturday, Dec. 1, but will be extended through the beginning of next year.

Richardson elaborated on how the museum board came to the idea of creating the flag.

"This year has been a patriotic one for the history center. Last June, we worked with local groups to sponsor the War of 1812 Bicentennial events at Lenora," Richardson explained. "Our events committee and board of directors chose to continue that theme for our fall fundraiser. Events chair Rhonda Steenblock came up with the idea of creating an American flag from paper stars."

The fundraiser benefits FCHC in various ways and allows visitors to support the county museum and illuminate the histories of their ancestors, be they War of 1812 veterans, men who went off to war during the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam or even the Gulf War.

"This is unique in that it's something new and creative for us...plus, it stays true to one of the missions of the history center and genealogy library: honoring our ancestors," Richardson added. "The history center depends annually on the generous donations from patrons and membership of the historical society. We are grateful to all who support our mission of preserving the history of Fillmore County and telling the stories that only we can tell. Those stories include the collective histories of our veteran ancestors."

The director went on, "American history becomes personal history when you focus on your ancestors' roles in events. It is my deep belief - the belief that drives all of my historical research - that all history is family history...and has been since Adam and Eve. Families - yours, mine, ours - made history in the most literal sense."

Richardson stated, "In the coming year, we plan to reach out for wider community support of our events. With this in mind, we'll appeal to local businesses and organizations to work with us as sponsors of our public events. In the case of this fundraiser, the kick-off was led by the recent historical program held at our history center by Richard G. Krom. Mr. Krom's Civil War presentation on the First Minnesota was graciously sponsored by The First State Bank of Fountain and Root River State Bank of Chatfield. Patriotic events are always popular ones for us...the recent program brought in a standing room only crowd to our community room. We plan to promote similar events in 2013 - stay tuned on that!"

Richardson is pleased to continue accepting names and donations for "Honoring Your Veteran Ancestors" as a fundraiser and an exhibit. The 4' by 6' flag is on the wall of the history center exhibit arena across from the elevator lift, and at present has 70 names.

"Our goal is to complete all stars and stripes. We will continue the event into 2013 until our flag is entirely full. The cost is $1 donation per star, but we gratefully have received donations above that amount," she added. "If you cannot visit us in person, mail the names of your veteran ancestors along with a check made out to FCHS, or I can accept PayPal payment through email. In both cases, I will write the information you provide on the stars and add them to the flag."

Donors may contribute stars to the flag by sending their veterans' names, donors' mailing and e-mail address and payment to the Fillmore County History Center, 202 County Road 8, Fountain, MN, 55935 or by email to Richardson at fchc@frontier.com.

The Fillmore County History Center is open Tuesday through Saturday and features an astounding array of curiosities and historical artifacts. For more information, call (507) 268-4449.