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'Golden Age' highlights Heroes' Tree

November 24, 2010
Bonnie Powers has an audience. And that audience looks forward to her radio show, "Golden Age," each Tuesday afternoon on WBRO, Crawford County's only radio station.

And for the last 11 years, Powers, and a sidekick or two, has kept that audience entertained and informed.

On WBRO-FM’s “Golden Age” Veterans Day show, Bonnie Powers, left, and co-host Edith Key, right, welcomed Becky Stetter and Roberta Toby, who manages the Our Heroes’ Tree at the Crawford County Public Library, and Rita Harden, director of the Peacock Children’s Theatre. Photo by Lee Cable
One of Powers' recent shows focused on Veterans Day, and Powers and her regular co-host, Edith Key, had Becky Stetter and Roberta Toby on the show to talk about the Our Heroes' Tree the two women designed and maintain at the Crawford County Public Library in English.

The Heroes' Tree project is a program started by Purdue University that partners with libraries around the globe in an effort to honor the contributions of past and present service members and to create an awareness of military families affected by current military deployments. Stetter and Toby jumped at an opportunity to honor veterans and active military men and women by setting up a tree at the Crawford County Public Library. The original idea was to allow veterans, or families of veterans, and active duty military to design an ornament and place it on the tree which is on display at the library in English.

But through the years, Stetter and Toby tweaked the details of the tree and began accepting photographs of military personnel. Those are now scanned with the library's new scanner and downloaded. The women then place the photograph in a cardboard frame designed to look like military dog tags. Those are then hung on the tree.

The tree used to be on display at certain times of the year, like Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but now it is on display year-round.

After Stetter and Toby spoke, Key took the microphone and gave some facts about Nov. 11: In 1775, the Marine Corps was founded and, in 1776, their first engagement was in the Bahamas. On Nov. 11, 1620, the Pilgrims signed a compact. On Nov. 11, 1889, the state of Washington was added to the Union.

Powers took the microphone again, noting how awesome and interesting the history of our wars really is and how important it is for young people to know that history.

"That made me think of an old song," Powers said. "It's called 'There's a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere.' "

Station manager Shawn Scott, almost perfectly on cue, as if he was anticipating what Powers was going to say, had the song pulled up on the Internet and played it for the radio audience.

"There's a Star-Spangled Banner waving somewhere," Powers sang along, tapping her foot. "In a distant land so many miles away."

When the song ended, Keys again took the mike and talked about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and how it is now called the Tomb of the Unknown. And when the talk focused on the unknown soldier from the Vietnam War, Scott offered an update, saying that, through DNA samples, they were finally able to identify the Vietnam Unknown Soldier as First Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, from St. Louis, who was shot down over Vietnam during the war. His remains were relocated to his hometown in Missouri. Powers then read the weekly announcements of events, programs, reunions and church activities going on throughout the county, including one announcement that declared that "if you weren't there, you missed out."

Another announcement concerned the "food for fine" program at the Crawford County Public Library. Anyone who owes fines for late returns at the library can bring in a can of food for every dollar owed and receive credit on their fines. The library will also accept donations for phone cards for service members overseas being sent by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Powers then acknowledged another guest, Rita Hardin, who went on the air with information about the Peacock Children's Theater and its upcoming presentation of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" at Hillview Christian Church.

"We've all worked together like a family to make this show a success," Hardin, the show's director, said. "I hope we continue to grow. Financing is low, and some of us contribute from our own pockets to keep everything going. But we only charge $5 for admission, and that isn't much for a performance like this. We hope to get some community sponsors to help in the future. And we're hoping to perform in other areas someday and be a traveling troupe.

"We encourage anyone wanting to get involved — making costumes, painting sets and helping in other ways — to contact us. It's a wonderful experience."

Powers then talked about "turkey day" and how her family used to butcher hogs on Thanksgiving. Then, she discussed how a small town in Oklahoma has a "goose grab."

"They park a truck full of turkeys in front of the grocery store," she said. "Then, they turn them loose and the kids catch them. If you catch a turkey, you got to take it home for dinner."

The women then asked Scott for a "Jenny, the Bloodhound" update, who it seems has been dumping her water bowl and creating havoc around the Scott household, but, otherwise, is as cute as ever.

As the show drew to a close, Scott played another song, and Powers sang along, tapped her feet and began planning for next week's show.

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