Just a few weeks ago, we learned about the tragic death of Lance Corporal Jared M. Schmitz. A 20-year-old Marine from Wentzville and 2019 graduate of Fort Zumwalt South High School, he was one of 13 U.S. troops killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan, while assisting with evacuation efforts of Afghan civilians. During this tumultuous time, it is fitting that we pause to recognize and remember our veterans and reflect on their service to our great nation.
I am proud of this community for coming together to show respect and gratitude for LCpl. Schmitz. On Sept. 8, when he arrived home, thousands of people from St. Charles County and surrounding areas lined highways and overpasses to pay their respects during a dignified escort from St. Louis Lambert International Airport to Baue Funeral Home Cave Springs. Our residents showed their support again during the procession Sept. 16 from Baue to his final resting place at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
To further honor this fallen hero, I read a proclamation in honor of LCpl. Schmitz at the St. Charles County Council meeting Aug. 30, and the St. Charles County Parks Department added his name to the memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Plaza at Veterans Tribute Park in Weldon Spring. The wall’s stone panels feature the names of St. Charles County soldiers who have died in the line of duty since World War I. “Jared M. Schmitz” is the 185th name to be inscribed on the wall. Along with visiting Veterans Tribute Park, I encourage you and your family to honor LCpl. Schmitz and the contributions of all our veterans by taking part in these upcoming and ongoing opportunities and visiting the following memorials:
- The Veterans & Athletes United (VAU) Fallen Heroes Memorial will be displayed at Veterans Tribute Park from 7 a.m. to 30 minutes past sunset on Friday, Oct. 15, through Sunday, Oct. 17. The exhibit includes a 25-foot American flag and the dog tags of 7,040 brave soldiers who died while serving in a time of conflict. This exhibit also features a flag draped over a fallen soldier’s casket, with a battlefield cross sculpted by veteran artist Alicia Dietz displayed in front of the flag.
- The St. Charles County Veterans Committee and the St. Charles City Veterans Commission will host their annual Veterans Day Program Thursday, Nov. 11, at the Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the St. Charles County Executive Office Building/Historic Courthouse at 100 North Third Street in St. Charles. Stay tuned to our website and social media for more information. Additional ceremonies will be held by municipalities and veterans groups throughout the county.
- The St. Charles County Veterans Museum honors all veterans who served our country and especially those from St. Charles County. The vision of veteran and county resident Ralph Barrale, the museum opened in spring 2019 to keep their memories alive. The museum at 410 East Elm Street in O’Fallon is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
- Visit the following veterans memorials in our county:
- City of O’Fallon – Veterans Memorial Walk
- City of St. Charles – Veterans Memorial
- City of St. Peters – Veterans Memorials
- City of Wentzville – Vietnam Veterans Memorial