I first meet Krag in the fall of 1958 when we both were beginning 4th grade at Pleasant St. Elementary School. My family had moved to Norwalk from Kentucky the previous year. His family had just moved here that summer from Pennsylvania.
We quickly became close friends, and I have many pleasant memories of the times we shared. We would play together at recess, find seats at the same table in the cafeteria, and walk home together after school. My family moved when I was in 5th grade.
Krag and I did not see much of each other again until we reached Junior High School. Although we developed different interest and pursued different courses academically, we remained good friends. I remember Krag as someone who was polite, kind ,and considerate of others. I don't remember ever hearing him speak harshly to anyone.
Krag left school after our junior year and joined the Army. While training in Radar operation and repair, he also completed the necessary studies to obtain his high school diploma from the Army.
Krag returned to Norwalk and came to school while home on leave before going to Vietnam. The last time I saw him, he was standing in the hall on the top floor of the Cole building talking with several teachers. He was wearing his dress green uniform, and I remember noticing how straight he stood and how proud he appeared to be. It left a feeling much the same as I still feel when the Color Guard passes during the Memorial Day parade or when the flag is raised prior to the start of a football game at Marsh Field in Monroeville.
On November 10th of 1967, the "Norwalk Reflector" reported on the dedication of a flag pole erected by the Milan Jaycees in honor of Larry Libbee, the first resident of Norwalk killed in Vietnam. Directly below this article was a picture of Krag under the title "Norwalk Soldier Missing After Skirmish In Vietnam."
The next day, the paper published an article reporting that Krag had been killed in action in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The list would grow to include Larry, Krag, Ron Coe, and Jack Lundell. A distant war in a previously obscure country had come home.
A memorial service was held on the 17th of November at Kubach-Smith Funeral Home after which Krag was taken home to be buried in Cherry Tree, Pennsylvania. The feeling of shock, sadness, and loss remained for a long time, and I thought of Krag often; but gradually, an adjustment to reality was made, and life went on.
In the summer of 1994, I traveled to the small town of Cherry Tree. After locating the cemetery, I searched for about half an hour and eventually found a headstone with the following inscription:
There on the gentle sloping foothills of the Allegheny Mountains in a quiet and peaceful cemetery, a war now distant in both geography and time came home to me again. I was reminded that freedom is not free, that a price is paid for the liberties that we all enjoy.
It has been said that the value of anything is best measured by what a person is willing to give up for it. The paradox of freedom is that those who give the most for it, by their very actions deny themselves the opportunity to ever experience it. It is an expression of love one for another that is among the most noble and unselfish we as humans are capable of.
As I stood there I was reminded of the words of Christ as recorded in the Book of John, Chapter 15, Verse 13:
The war in which Krag gave his life was said to be unpopular (not that war is or should be popular), and those who fought it are often overlooked and forgotten for this reason. I vowed that day to never forget that my freedom is bought with a price ... that I owe a debt to Krag, Larry, Ron, Jack, and hundreds of thousands more who have fought and died to pay the price so that I, and millions of others, might live free.
The flag may not fly at half staff over our nation's capital, and speeches may not mark its passage each year; but in a small rural community in north central Ohio, the 7th of November will not go unnoticed by a former classmate and friend from the Class of '67 who will always remember ...
... and the sacrifice he made for freedom.
Henry L. Alexander