HOWELLS, Neb. - When you gaze across the hills and fields of rural Nebraska, there is not much that catches your eye. However, if you drive along Highway 32 near Howells in northeast Nebraska, there is no way you can miss this mighty 50 by 30-foot American Flag.
Sunday afternoon, over a hundred people veered off the beaten path and gathered in a rural field near the intersection of Highway 32 and 575th avenue to watch the raising of this enormous flag as part of a dedication ceremony for a new veterans memorial in Northeast Nebraska.
The Molacek family of Howells was the driving force behind the project. They built the memorial to honor their father, U.S. Army Corporal Donald Molacek, who served in the Korean War from 1951 to 1953.
"Our dad was pretty special to us," Renee Tichota said sitting next to her sister, Ardene Belina, and her brother, Don Molacek Jr. "We wanted to show everybody how much he meant to us," Tichota said.
During the dedication ceremony, the American flag was raised up a 120-foot tall flag pole along with a POW/MIA flag. Five other flags from all branches of the U.S. military were raised as well, all of which surround the center of the memorial.
Though the Molaceks built the memorial in Don’s name, the family also dedicated the project to all veterans from all branches of the military.
Tichota explained that she hopes veterans feel appreciated when they see the flag stand tall upon the hill.
"With everything that is going on in the world, we just thought it would be good recognition for the people who gave the ultimate sacrifice" Don Molachek Jr. added.
The project was by no means easy for the family, but after around a year of planning, setbacks, and progress, the memorial was finally finished and the flag was raised- just in time for Veterans Day.
The March floods were one of those setbacks, but when friends and neighbors came to help with construction, "it was very enjoyable," Don Jr. said.
The Molaceks hope that the memorial serves, not only as a reminder of those who have sacrificed so much for the country, but also as a sense of unity for everyone who sees it.