I Have To Tell You... - The Missourian: News

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Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 6:32 pm | Updated: 6:57 pm, Sat Jun 22, 2013.

Soccer guru Pat Smiley’s mission to turn the Liberty Field walking trail into a retrospective on all veterans who have taken up arms in defense of their country has captured the hearts of a growing number of supporters.

Pat wants to erect 25 granite markers that walkers would pass as they walk on the trail. Each marker would depict one war and the individuals who fought in it.

To help plan and construct this walking history museum, Pat said he turned to school Superintendent Randy George who suggested a couple of history experts to help.

“Linda Andre and Linda Brown will help with curriculum that can be placed on the school district Web page,” he said. “I hope districts from all over the state will not only look at the curriculum on the Web page, but will bring their students here to Pacific to walk the trail.”

The park board has signed on to this project. The board of aldermen supports it and tourism commission members was so taken with it they pledged $10,000 to the project. Pat has to raise $15,000 in events like his May 1 Liberty Ride and Legion Pavilion Fair.

Some 55 motorcyclists gathered at the St. Louis Arch for his May 12 freedom ride, which kicked off a fundraiser at the American Legion pavilion. Vicki Smiley, Pat’s mother, agreed to sit on his motorcycle for the ride back to Pacific.

“This has become a passion for him,” she said. “He has put his heart into it.”

The American Legion provided the pavilion for the event at no cost. Fourteen vendors selling Harley-Davidson memorabilia, tie-dyed T-shirts and other hometown trinkets surrounded the pavilion, creating a street fair atmosphere comparable to the 1960s and ’70s when the pavilion was filled every weekend.

A large bounce house was set up on the front lawns of the Lions Den, a portable stage was set up on the parking lot facing the Legion pavilion, close enough to be heard but far enough away that revelers could converse.

Pony rides and blind four-wheeler drives were set up on the grassy area east of the pavilion.

Gold Star mothers, who sold pastries and chances on quilts, lured a steady stream of visitors with their homemade apple dumplings.

A constant line of bikers chucked off their leather jackets or vests at the logo patch booth, where a seamstress from Donna’s Sewing & Things leaned over a sewing machine and stitched on the patches.

Action Riders, a new local motorcycle club that is devoted to raising funds for people in need, set up a booth in the corner of the pavilion.

The Donnelly Backpack group, which sold their traditional hamburgers, hot dogs and brats, added a crowd pleaser — corn-in-the-husk with had a decided buttery taste.

For my husband Bob and me, who usually don’t spend the entire day at these events, the gathering was infectious. Brian Knight, event emcee, kept stopping by our table. Carol Johnson, her daughter Sherri and granddaughter Shyanne, spent a couple of hours with us.

“I used to roller skate in this pavilion,” one cheerful visitor observed as she passed our table.

A biker, who said he was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian, and his girlfriend sported wooded bead necklaces that he picked up on the Cherokee reservation.

A couple of people we didn’t know were so caught up in the festivities that they sat at our table and told us their life stories. I didn’t tell them that I might write about our visit so I won’t reveal any details, but I have to tell you... we may made a couple of friends for life.

As a walking history experience, the afternoon was about as old-fashioned as it gets.

Also the corn-in-the-husk and apple dumplings were memorable.

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