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August 7, 2013

On Michael E. O’Hara’s “Lest We Forget”

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We have just finished reading “Lest We Forget,” a history of Veterans Affairs in Brown County, Indiana, meticulously researched and written by Bravo’s own Michael E. O’Hara.

It is awe-inspiring to understand the dedication and countless hours O’Hara spent poring over records at the Brown County Historical Society, interviewing local residents, tracking down missing information, and assembling the information for all time.

Complete with footnotes, old and new photographs, historic documents and newspaper clippings, O’Hara tells the long and intricately woven story of Brown County veterans from 1836 through the Vietnam War, and other Brown County history through the present. We learn about those forever lost in battle, Army nurses, veterans organizations and memorials, POW/MIAs, community dinners and historical buildings. Much like a Norman Rockwell painting, it is a microcosm of American history.

“Lest We Forget” is clearly a labor of love written in O’Hara’s strong patriotic voice and inspired by the urgency to assemble and preserve the history of a man’s homeland. But more than that, it is a tribute to those who have served to protect and defend our people and our way of life.

A favorite quote from this book-on-CD puts a 1906 community dinner into perspective:

“…I have found very distinct differences in the generations that have evolved throughout our history. It is obvious that many things have caused that to occur. Technology, methods and modes of travel and an ever-evolving environment in which we live have all contributed. It does stymie the mind somewhat though to think that in 1906 before many folks even owned an automobile they were able to muster between 3,500 and 5,000 people for a bean dinner at a local cemetery. Some of those folks came from over seven states over multiple years to attend those events.”
What brought them out? Another quote, this one from a 1906 article in the Brown County Democrat regarding the Bean Dinner:
“…the masses love the Old Soldiers and are determined that while there are Veterans enough left on this earth to get up a commemorative bean dinner that remnant shall be honored by the presence of their loving fellow citizens who are enjoying the benefits of the restored union of the states, so dearly bought by the expenditure of blood and treasure; and the chief cost of the restoration, all agree, was in the blood shed, lives lost, early graves of many thousands, and crippled forms, and shortened lives of yet surviving Veterans.”

Clearly, in this CD and in his everyday life, Michael E. O’Hara has taken up the banner to carry the appreciation and history of Brown County veterans well into the future.

From the Brown County (Indiana) Historical Society website, “‘Lest We Forget’ is available on CD and will be an invaluable source of information to anyone interested in history, genealogy, or veteran’s affairs. The CD is currently available at the Brown County Community Foundation for a minimum donation of $25.00. All donations will go toward the Larry C. Banks Bronze Star Scholarship. Please contact BCCF by calling 812-988-4882 or at:”

Congratulations to Michael E. O’Hara for this major achievement.

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  1. WOW! I hardly know what to say??? Thank You is so in adequate.It does mean a lot not only from an old friend but from a gifted writer (which I am not) such as yourself. One more note for those who do not know: Larry Banks was my best friend in H.S. We left for Vietnam the same weekend in 1967. He was Army I was Marine. He served and died with the 1st Bn 26th Infantry Regiment. As everyone all knows by know we served with the 1st Bn 26th Marine Regiment. The gymnasium in my hometown bears his name as well.

    Semper Fi Ken, see you and Betty soon.

    Comment by Michael E. O'Hara — August 8, 2013 @ 12:04 pm
  2. Thank You Mike for the tireless work you put in on the CD. I am inspired to search and document the military history of my own family by your effort.
    I too was a friend of Larry Banks. He was just an average guy who I never knew to anger anyone. Everyone who knew him liked him. Thank you for keeping his and others spirits alive.

    Comment by Michael Percifield — August 8, 2013 @ 12:45 pm
  3. Powerful reflections of America in battle throughout history. On multiple occasions, I listened to Michael’s emotional recollections. Now, I applaud his wonderful effort here!

    Comment by Connie Gibbons — August 8, 2013 @ 3:43 pm
  4. Are there still ”Bean Dinners” ? There should be because this country has and is still expending blood and treasure and the people responsible should be revered.

    Comment by mike preston — August 9, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

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