Honoring the fallen

Sue and Jim Keul have worked hard to make their vision of honoring local veterans at the VMC come to fruition. Photo / Per Peterson

With the support of the community, Sue and Jim Keul have given a new, updated look to the memorial at the VMC

There’s a very good reason it’s called the Veterans Memorial Center, and few understand and respect that more than Jim and Sue Keul, whose fathers both served in World War II.

That’s why the couple has put so much effort into a new memorial to honor veterans who have been lost in wars and conflicts over the decades. From Earle Winton Ray to Jason Timmerman, nearly four dozen local veterans are memorialized in the new display the Keuls have been working on for months.

“Growing up across the street, I’m well-acquainted with this facility when it was the old Armory,” Jim said. “Bill Mitchell and a number of people in the ’50s worked hard to get this facility here, and it’s always been military to me. As a veteran who treated and evacuated casualties, I have the greatest respect for those who served under the most adverse conditions, especially the prolonged wars of WWI and WWII — much different than Viet Nam where we knew if we were still alive in 12 to 13 months, whether the fighting was over or not, we were going home.”

Jim said the branding of the facility — the VMC — speaks to its military history, so it only makes sense that Tracy veterans are honored the best way possible.

“We wanted to do something, but we didn’t know what,” said Sue.

The new memorial occupies the same spot as the one it replaced. Back in the summer of 2006, a committee of American Legion and VFW members in Tracy got together in an effort to honor veterans at the VMC who were killed in action, were prisoners of war or who were missing in action. While rather simple and rudimentary to the eye, the original display was a poignant one, as it included photographs of all the veterans. However, the Keuls have taken that display to a new level.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.