HOLTON (KSNT)- For two years a Holton man has been on a mission to make sure local solider’s would not be only honored for their sacrifices, but never forgotten.
If you’re passing through the small northeast, Kansas town, you might miss the highway signs denoting the city’s prestigious military honors,”In 2014 the City of Holton was named Purple Heart City,”said Mike McManigal. “And shortly after that, Jackson County was named Purple County.”
When Mike McManigal passes by those highways signs right outside of Holton, it serves as a reminder, “Purple heart is a combat related award,” McManigal said. “It’s given to someone whose either been wounded or killed at the hands of the enemy.”
He knows about it well because 6 years ago he received a Purple Heart,”My wife and I were sitting at the table eating a meal, there was a knock at the door and we kind of joked about who was going to get up and go answer the door,” McManigal said. “I got that assignment, and I went and opened up the door and there were two officers standing there, and its an instant feeling of knowing why they were standing there.”
PFC Cody Baker, McManigals youngest son was killed in Afghanistan in 2011, at just 19-years-old. A hero, with a father who wanted to make sure his son would never be forgotten.”When we first started this project we had 74 known names for Jackson County purple heart recipients, right now there’s 166 names.”
With all those heroes in Jackson County alone, McManigal decided there needs to be more than just highway signs. So he started working on a project with his fellow members in the American Legion Riders Post 44, to get a monument put up at Linscott Park in Holton, “So people could come and actually have something tangible to look at.”
Donations flooded in locally and across the country to help pay for the monument, within one year, enough money was raised to buy the monument. On Saturday, May 6th at 11 a.m. there will be a ceremony with an official unveiling of the monument. A proud moment for those who chipped into make the monument possible, and for McManigal, “It has a very deep meaning for me because Cody’s name will be on that monument.”