Sunday, March 13, 2011

Minn. town rallies around family of injured soldier

CLEVELAND, Minn. -- Cleveland, Minnesota wears its patriotism on its main drag. Friday night, its heart was on Fifth Street.

A good share of the town's 700 people lit candles for Army Pfc. Jack Zimmerman, who lost both legs Wednesday in an IED explosion in Afghanistan and now lies in a medically induced coma at a military hospital in Germany.

"It was very shocking, we're a small community," said Rachel Manser, who helped plan the get-together.

Rev. Shelly Olson, pastor at Our Savior's Lutheran, Jack's home church, told the crowd that Jack will need the people around him to be strong. "There is a saying I'd rather light a candle than curse the darkness and that's what we are doing tonight," she said.

And then they walked, from Jack's old high school to his parent's house - classmates, friends and people Jack barely knew.

"Just the unity of the community and the support I think goes a long way," said Ruby Hefner, who moved to Cleveland just a few months ago.

Jack's father Mark and mother Lori were waiting to in the driveway to greet and exchange hugs with their visitors, along with Jack's younger brother Andrew, a soldier himself who flew home from Fort Hood Thursday night.

A few feet away Megan Wolfe clung to a friend. She accepted Jack's marriage proposal just three weeks ago.

"It's overwhelming the amount of people that came out and I'm willing to bet I know most of them," said Jack's dad.

Jack's mother thanked the visitors for helping the family get through a difficult night. "When everybody leaves tonight the tears will start in again, and tomorrow morning when we wake up the tears will start in again, then we'll get tough and look for our flight to get Jacdak."

On Friday night, the best part of America was standing in a driveway in Cleveland. LINK

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