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|All Aboard BNSF Train Honoring Vets
|An executive with Galesburg's largest employer says the way he felt after hearing from some of the people who attended a special event they put on Tuesday is the reason the company does it to begin with.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe brought what they call a "Holiday Express" train to Galesburg Tuesday. They use the train as a way to honor veterans and their families in the areas the train stops in -- by giving them a free ride and some other holiday goodies.
It also gave executives like Vice President for State Government Affairs Paul Nowicki a chance to talk one on one with some of the families. Nowicki says he got to talk to Nita Cross, mother of Army Sergeant Kyle Wehrly -- the first Knox County soldier to die in combat during the current war on terror.
Nowicki tells WGIL that exchange moved him.
"It chokes you up, it really does," Nowicki said. "I'm a railroader. I've been out on the railroad for 30 years, and you see a lot. But when you meet your first Gold Star parent, and as a parent myself of a 20-year old and a 22-year old, you realize that easily could have been one of my children, as it was this person's child. So your heart goes out to them."
Nowicki, who said he had never met a Gold Star family before Tuesday, says he and Cross talked some about the important support network families like Wehrly's have, and how they all meet for lunch on a regular basis so they can continue that level of support.
Nowicki described many of the families of having, in his words, a stiff upper lip, but you can see what the families have been through when you look into their eyes.
BNSF also made a $10,000 donation to the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund.
The railroad also met with Galesburg and area officials while they were in town.
(Veterans and military families depart the BNSF Holiday Express Tuesday night at the Galesburg Amtrak Station.)
(Andrew Johnson, BNSF VP for Governmental Affairs, presents a $10,000 check to the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund Tuesday night outside the "Holiday Express" train at the Galesburg Amtrak Station. WGIL News Story and Photos by Will Stevenson.)
|12 09 09 by Newsroom
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