Community helped give Marine a proper sendoff

Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

Marine Lance Corporal Dale Means was laid to rest at St. Patrick’s Cemetery, on Wednesday, Nov. 28, outside the same church where he married his high school sweetheart just 13 months earlier. Means, a 2007 graduate of New Prague High School, was killed November 18 when the vehicle he was riding in hit a roadside bomb i n Afghanistan. The funeral p r o c e s s i o n began at Bruzek Funeral Home and went east on Main Street (Highway 13/19), and the route was lined not only with 1,800 American Flags, courtesy of Larry Eckhardt of Little York, IL, but with hundreds of people who took a break from their daily routine to give the Marine a proper sendoff. Those lining the sidewalks included people of all ages, from young children to retired people. Several classes from St. Wenceslaus School walked the six blocks from school to pay their respects to a fallen hero. One woman, Jodi Hunt, walked up to the group and passed out small American Flags to the children. Helen Tikalsky, who is the mother of three veterans, talked about the emotions she felt as her voice broke with emotion. The procession followed Highway 13 east and north. At the roundabout at Scott County Road 2, two sheriff’s cars blocked crossing traffic and two deputies as well as a man in a Marine Uniform stood in the circle and saluted as the procession went by. Dozens of cars were stopped and passengers got out andwalked closer to the intersection to pay their respects. A Marine Funeral Detail accompanied the pallbearers and the casket carrying Means into the packed church. Due to the small size of the church and the large crowd, a video feed was sent to the St. Patrick Social Hall which was also filled with mourners. Following the Funeral Mass, Means was brought to the adjacent cemetery. A Marine detail fired a salute and played Taps. The New Prague Veteran Honor Guard and members of the Patriot Guard Riders also stood by as the final prayers were said and Means’ body was laid to rest.