Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Did you say that in your head like the city in Egypt?  If you did, you just set yourself apart as not a local.  Natives say it KARE-OH.

Where Highway 31 crosses the river leading you toward
Highway 50.  I find these old ironwork bridges so charming
and appealing...
Stained glass window in the
Apostolic Church of Cairo.
I LOVE stained glass!
With homes and businesses stretching along the North Fork of the Hughes River, Cairo is another charming small town just up the road a bit from Ellenboro along the formerly lucrative North Bend Rail Line that’s now been transformed into 72 miles of hiking, biking, and horse riding trail. And like most small towns, the parts that are really interesting and beautiful aren’t apparent unless you slow down and look for them.

Since I’m trying to do just that, I pulled into a parking space on one of the business streets and waved back to the man sitting on the front porch of his bicycle shop fixing tires.  We talked for a few minutes and I learned the shop is there to rent bicycles for day trips on the trail or to repair those that have had an unfortunate mishap along the way and had to be pushed in.

The old Bank of Cairo building, situated
beautifully on the river bank, is now home
to the North Bend Rail Trail Foundation.
He told me both diners, The Trailside and Shemp’s, were decent places to get dinner.  And he pointed out a decrepit old Victorian house that’s for sale... cheap.  At least it seems cheap from what I'm accustomed to seeing real estate list for.  Like him, I hope someone who loves those “painted lady” houses comes along and makes it a showpiece of this quaint little town!  He also alerted me to the Veteran’s Monument I’d parked by and still managed to miss seeing…

There's a bell I'm guessing gets rung ceremoniously during holiday commemorations and a pair of iron benches for those who want to pause, read, and reflect. These 5 plaques are aligned on a long and simple granite marker:

It was known as the Great War... the war to end all wars.

We went "over there" to the songs and cheers of our countrymen, and marched
right into the grim reality of twentieth-century warfare.  Poison gas, machine
guns, tanks, aircraft, and submarines were devastating innovations.  We fought
in trenches, on the sea, and in the air.

We helped make the world safe for democracy... but it was only the beginning.
This memorial is in honor of all of the World War II veterans who were involved
in the fight for the freedom of America and the free world.

Whether they fought in the Pacific or European theater, they faced a resolute and
often brutal enemy; yet they possessed the inner strength and courage that kept
them going on the beaches of Normandy, in the deserts of North Africa, and on
the islands of the South Pacific.

The actions of those who were called to duty were probably best described by the
words of Admiral Nimitz: "Uncommon valor was a common virtue."
They told us, "We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it." So we
fought in the mountains at Heartbreak Ridge and waded ashore at Inchon.

We froze in the winter and baked in the summer sun.

At times, we were greatly outnumbered, but we still fought on and many of us gave
our lives for Freedom... for Justice... and for Peace

This memorial was erected in memory of the young individuals who went to war
as kids and lost their youthful dreams, and some their lives, for a cause - freedom
and honor - and came back as men with the horrors of war instilled in every fiber
of their being and were never given the respect and honor they so dearly deserved
from the public or United States government.

God will one day judge our actions.  Until then, He will shine on the lives of each
veteran now and forever more because He was with each of them in Vietnam. He is
the only One that truly knows what they went through and are living with every day.
"I have seen in your eyes a fire of determination to get this job done quickly so that
we may all return to the shores of our great nation.  My confidence in you is total.
Our cause is just.  Now you must be the thunder and lightning of Desert Storm."
- General Norman Schwarzkopf

I have connections to all these conflicts - relatives and friends who've served in the Army, Navy, Airforce and Marine Corp...  And the monuments celebrating the achievements of our veterans have sure found a place in my heart, especially the ones you find in obscure places where you don't expect them. I welcome these opportunities to stop and think about the courage it takes to offer yourself up for the good of your country knowing you might be called on to make that ultimate sacrifice.  There’s something sacred about that kind of bravery that deserves to be honored.

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