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Appleton cemetery tour helps honor fallen veterans

APPLETON, WI (WTAQ) - An Appleton man is helping everyone remember that fallen veterans honored this Memorial Day weekend, grew up right alongside of us in our communities.

"Ultimately these soldiers and sailors came from communities like Appleton," Joe Garthofner tells FOX 11. "The United States military would not exist without volunteer servicemen from communities like Appleton, Green Bay, various areas." 

So Gaerthofner, a self-proclaimed history nut, is working to keep history alive by helping others discover the veterans behind the headstones in Riverside Cemetery in Appleton. 

He's a volunteer with the History Museum at the Castle in Appleton. And this Memorial Day weekend he's taking groups on a tour of the cemetery of those who served. 

"There's many, many stories of veterans out here not only who served their country, some have paid the ultimate sacrifice. And we though it was important," Gaerthofner said. 

From the Civil War to the current conflict in Afghanistan, there are local veterans who fought for our freedom and the freedom of others being remembered at Riverside. 

"Matt was from Appleton, born in Appleton, graduate of Appleton North High school...," Gaerthofner told the small group on Sunday's tour about one of the more recent local veterans to lose his life servicing his country.

Staff Sgt. Matt Hermanson died in 2011. But veterans from Appleton have been serving their community and country ever since people settled in this community. And Gaerthofner says they should not be forgotten either. Gaerthofner offered pictures and stories her researched about the veterans to help visitors make a connection. 

"It's a weekend of remembrance and certainly with all the men and women who served it's important that we remember what this weekend is about," said Gaerthofner.