Veterans honored through a bit of hard work

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For stones mounted on a cement slab, the duo drilled holes and permanently glued the markers in place.

RUSSELL CITY, Kan. _ Kansas residents Frank Peirano and Larry Elsasser have worked to repair or replace more than 800 Veteran and VFW Auxillary grave markers in cemeteries in Russell City.

Peirano, a member of the Lutheran Cemetery committee and the Russell City Council, had noticed that many of the veteran markers were in in poor condition, and that the placement of the markers was causing increased maintenance time for cemetery markers. He contacted Larry Elsasser, a veteran and machinist, in hopes of repairing some of the markers. Working together since the fall of 2015, the two have created a tribute that will honor the deceased Veterans in a way that will display well and remain virtually maintenance-free.

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Old, broken, and unrepairable markers have been replaced with new markers mounted on custom, rust-free aluminum rods.

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When the markers were still in presentable condition, only the brittle steel rods were replaced with new, custom-machined aluminum rods.

Elsasser, who had served in the U.S. Army in Europe from 1963-66 and is a life member of the VFW, noted the old markers depended on a steel rod, which rust and ultimately become weak and brittle. Elsasser recommended using aluminum as an alternative. With the help of his wife, Bonita, he machined each individual rod to fit any repairable markers, or to use with replacement markers.

During the upgrade process, Pierano and Elsasser identified many Veterans’ graves that were not properly marked, so they added the new markers to those sites. They also replaced 30 grave Grand Army of the Republic markers on the grave of Civil War veterans and another eight from burials of Spanish American War veterans. In addition, they replaced or repaired nearly 100 markers for women of the VFW Auxiliary.

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The new markers have been placed at a uniform height throughout the cemetery.

The markers have been placed uniformly throughout the cemetery so that they are now easily visible. Though finished with the project, Peirano and Elsasser ask to be notified if a veteran was not identified in the Lutheran Cemetery in Russell City. Interested parties may contact Elsasser via email at elsasser@medianet.net

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