People take to the Katy Trail for several reasons. For some, it is exercise. Others seek to experience the outdoors, but for many it is both. Much of this trail weaves through farmland. With cellphones in hand, bike riders, walkers and joggers snap photos of landscape and wildlife.
When they make it to mile marker 86, they have a unique opportunity to stop and remember — at least that is the hope of Ron and Linda Sue Roetemeyer.
When a 4-H fair float was torn apart, the Roetemeyers wondered what would happen to their favorite part. “Our grandsons were in the 4-H Club,” says Linda Sue, who along with her husband spent years as 4-H volunteers. “We asked what they were going to do with it; they didn’t know.”
So, the Warren County couple made a donation and brought a large wooden sign with the American flag and a kneeling soldier home to their farm. Today, it is a selfie stop for thousands of travelers on the Katy Trail and Highway 94.
While many who live in rural America long for solitude and don’t necessarily like having strangers on their property, the Roetemeyers welcome it. Their driveway is right off the scenic Highway 94 and goes across the trail. At the end of May, they looked out the window from their house on a hill and saw it fill with Jeeps.
A Jeep club driving the scenic Highway 94 stopped. The Roetemeyers drove their golf car down to greet them and explain the history of the sign. The club even gave them T-shirts.
The couple found people appreciate the sign and what it represents. “It’s just our way of paying tribute to the soldiers,” Linda Sue says.
“The soldier down on one knee, and so many people go by, it just makes people stop and think a little bit,” Ron adds.
The couple lost count of just how many visitors stop by. “Oh, it could be in the thousands over the years,” he says.
Make a stop
In a time when there is division and isolation, it is nice to see people doing something to bring others together. And to think, it all started with a 4-H sign.
But it should be no surprise since those involved in this group, like the Roetemeyers, pledge their “heart to greater loyalty” and “hands to larger service.” And there is no representation of greater loyalty than to our country, and no greater service than those who fight for our freedoms.
If you’re out this summer and find yourself in southern Warren County, head west of Treloar, you can’t miss this salute to soldiers sign.