Locals gather to honor fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Sherriff Darren Shorts gives a speech at this years Memorial Day service at the Riverfront Park in Libby. Photo by Brian Baxter, The Montanian

By Brian Baxter


Libby residents somberly and appreciatively celebrated the remembrance of all those lost to us during numerous wars in order to guarantee freedoms that we are so uniquely privileged to enjoy in these United States of America.

In cemeteries and parks across the nation, even with socially distancing, many individuals honored the fallen.

In Riverfront Park, with a backdrop of the Cabinet Mountains and Scott Leonard’s bronze sculpture of a World War Two veteran assisting a Mideast War wounded soldier off the battlefield, Veteran’s of Foreign Wars official, Larry Pitcher, greeted the scattered patriots. A clergyman dressed in red, white, and blue, led with an opening prayer, then County Commissioner Mark Peck, Mayor Brent Teske, and Sheriff Darren Short all spoke briefly.

Possibly most importantly, just before the speakers were introduced, the Star Spangled Banner was played. On September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key penned a poem originally entitled, “In Defence of Fort McHenry,” after he had witnessed the Maryland fort being bombarded by the British during the War of 1812. After a day, the British were unable to destroy the fort and gave up. Key was relieved to see the American flag still flying over the fort, and quickly penned a few lines in tribute to what he had witnessed. That poem became the Star Spangled Banner hymn and our country’s national anthem. History is best written by those who lived it,  and taught to those who did not.

The history of this nation is all around us, and therefore those who seek it to discover and learn. Outside of New York City, in the small town of Tappan, New York an old cemetery sits. In this place the remains of Revolutionary War soldiers and patriots lay. Many of the old headstones have become turned in their position, and some are laying down with those interred.

Some of these soldiers were slain as they slept a short distance away by British soldiers, bayoneted in the dark while in their blankets. George Washington’s local headquarters of the late 1770’s are a hundred yards away.

On Andre’s Hill, a quarter mile from the cemetery, British Major John Andre was hung for the treason of transporting the plans of West Point, a strategic American fort, that were stolen by Benedict Arnold, to the British in Manhattan. In the old cemetery, the carved sandstone tablets, some names inscribed in Dutch, have faded from hundreds of years of rains. Or tears from heaven. It is important they also not be forgotten.

Many of our country’s fighting men and women have fallen alongside our allies of other countries, and in other countries around the world for our freedom.

John McCrae, author of the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” was a Canadian Lieutenant Colonel and army physician who was also a poet. At 45 years old in 1914, he was treating soldiers wounds at the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium, when his friend Alexis Helmer was killed by a German artillery shell. His remains were gathered in a blanket and buried. McCrae officiated at his graveside service. The next morning, McCrae wrote the poem. In 1918, McCrea, exhausted from treating wounds steadily for many years, contracted pneumonia, and died on Jan. 28, 1918 in France.

He too, reminded us that those who have died for us desire to, and should be remembered.

The Memorial Day appreciation in Riverfront Park along the Kootenai River, closed with the VFW’s Cerria Swagger’s beautiful bugle version of Taps.

Happy’s Inn open daily and under new management

By Brian Baxter

Left To Right: Kris, Cash, Casey, and Chloe Cole . Photo by Brian Baxter, The Montanian.


Happy’s Inn, reportedly the only bar on all U.S. Highway maps is open again under new owners and managers. Happy’s was founded in 1909, and has been called the friendliest community around.

Happy’s sits in the midst of numerous trout filled lakes and over 300 campsites within a few miles. The establishment includes a cafe, free wi-fi, gasoline, a 70-inch screen television to watch sports, and great people. Their address is 72576 U.S. Highway 2, Libby, but to locals it’s affectionately known as the halfway point between Libby and Kalispell. The phone there is 293-2929, and folks can check the Happy’s Inn Facebook page for upcoming events including concerts, cornhole tourneys, car shows, bingo games, cribbage tournaments, and even chili cook offs.

The Coles, Kris and Casey, are the owners and managers. Kris is from Libby and graduated high school in 1997. From there, he joined the U.S. Navy. He and his wife, Casey, were married in 1998 and they lived in Norfolk, Virginia until moving to California where Casey went to college. After Casey graduated college, the couple moved back to Montana and resided in Kalispell.

The couple told The Montanian that Kris had such fond memories of Happy’s Inn, and that Casey’s parents had a cabin on Upper Thompson Lake so Happy’s was definitely their hangout spot.

When it came up for sale, Kris couldn’t resist because he had always wanted to buy it. When asked what their most rewarding feelings were about taking over ownership of Happy’s Inn, the couple said in unison, “The Community.”

Folks can take a casual ride out and see what’s new at the new Happy’s Inn seven days per week.

Libby Care Center veterans receive Memorial Day gifts 

Submitted by
Bill Lafrance

Incoming V.F.W. Commander Bill Lafrance from John E. Freeman Post 5514 in Troy, and U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Anthony Sheasby from the Kalispell 889th Quartermaster Company, along with their local recruiters, assembled Memorial Day gift bags for all veterans currently residing at the Libby Care Center.

Last fall, Lafrance gave two Veterans Day presentations; the first to the students and faculty of Troy High School, and later that afternoon to 15 veterans residing at the Libby Care Center. Lafrance was captivated by listening to their military service stories, and this year he contacted Care Center Activities Director, Liz Guerra-Carmignani, and inquired into the number of resident veterans, which was 18.

Lafrance contacted Sgt. Sheasby, explaining a need for Libby Care Center veterans. Sgt. Sheasby returned Lafrance’s phone call a few days later and explained that between the headquarters’ company and local Army recruiters, they could supply enough bags for all in residence. These reusable bags included a water bottle, stainless steel coffee thermos, mouse pad, various military stickers, and extra bags. The veterans received their items on Memorial Day.

We want to thank U.S. Army Sgt. Anthony Sheasby, the 889th Quartermaster Company, and Kalispell recruiters for their thoughtfulness and generosity.