When 100 bronze stars were stolen from veterans graves at the Hubbard Cemetery, 9-year-old Oliver Manlove knew he had to take action.
“The reason this is really important to me is because I really love the veterans. The reason this really hurt is because they’re disrespecting the people that sacrificed themselves to protect us. It just makes me mad and sad that someone is disrespecting that,” he said. “It’s like, why would you do that? … It just hurts my soul.”
His goal is $3,500 to replace the bronze stars. To date, he’s raised about $1,400. He first collected donations last summer at a freewill lemonade stand during the July 5 2nd Street Stage concert and at the Park Rapids American Legion’s “Backyard Bash.”
On Saturday, he managed a booth at the Park Rapids Farmers’ Market and sought funds. Mom Renee and dad Ken Manlove said they will return to the market most Saturdays.
Oliver also hopes to seek donations at other busy locales with his lemonade stand. “Anywhere it’s really busy. I get the chance to sell some lemonade and get a lot of money,” he said.
On Saturday, Oliver handed over a cookie jar jammed with donations to Park Rapids American Legion Commander Lefty Anderson.
The Manloves used $400 to purchase about 60 aluminum stars so every veteran would have a flag holder for Memorial Day.
Oliver joined Star of the North Marine Corps League members and helped them place flags at several cemeteries prior to Memorial Day.
“It just means a whole lot to me because it’s something to thank the people that died for us,” he said.
Thankfully, he said, the aluminum stars have not been vandalized.
“Those will be replaced with bronze stars,” Rene pointed out.
To prevent the replacements from being stolen, Oliver wants to place the stars in cement. “It would take the Incredible Hulk to yank that out,” he said.
Donations can be sent to Gail Manlove at 1006 Crocus HIll Street, Apt. 216, Park Rapids, MN 56470.