The Chippewa Falls community is coming together this weekend to recognize and celebrate an overlooked part of the community.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, the Chippewa Falls Senior Center is hosting an event to celebrate area military and emergency service personnel. Along with celebrating the professionals in these occupations, the ceremony will also remember the three Girl Scouts and mother who were killed in a tragic hit-and-run crash.
The 20-minute outdoor event will begin and end with prayers delivered by guest speakers and echo taps being played. On display will be individual flags representing each of the five branches of military service surrounding the United States flag and emergency service flags. The Girl Scouts will have a dedicated flag as well. In addition to the flags, various colored trees will be on display in correspondence with the flags.
Following the presentation, the community members in attendance will be invited into the senior center to meet and speak with the emergency service members at the event to help bringing the community together in mutual respect.
Following the recent Girl Scout tragedy, director of the Chippewa Falls Senior Center Angie Walker said she felt it was important for the community to come together and recognize both the Girl Scouts and the men and women who encounter heartbreaking scenarios like this as part of their profession.
“Without them, we’d be lost,” Walker said. “We wouldn’t stand a chance, so the tragedy that happened woke me up and said, ‘What about all of these men and women who have given their lives for our lives?’ They’re there for us, so we need to let them know we’re here for them.”
Walker said it is incredibly important to shine a light on the men and women in the emergency service and military branches, because they don’t get the common recognition they deserve.
“They’re forgotten,” Walker said. “As a profession they give to their community and we expect them on the spur of the moment. We rely on these people 24/7 and they have to go from one desperation call to another. We don’t know what impact it all makes on them. It’s got to be so internally embedded to be able to go when it’s 50 below and still come or it’s 100 degrees and still come.”
Preceding the 2 p.m. ceremony, the center is holding an “Breakfast with Santa” event. Before attending the ceremony, the public is invited to the three-hour event bringing Mr. and Mrs. Claus to the building to take pictures and have breakfast with the children in attendance.
After all the children have had their fun in the morning, and after the community comes together in the afternoon to honor the military, the emergency services and the Girl Scouts, Walker said the hope for the event is to have the Girl Scout tragedy help bring the community together in a time of extreme mourning.
“Having the Girl Scout tree ... (it) wouldn’t be the same without one,” Walker said. “Whether we knew the families or not, each one of us was very touched and felt that pain and suffering. Our hearts went out to these people and to have their flag and tree stand with the emergency services’ is an honor.”