Tree Dedication to Karen Riester

On May 22, the 173d Airborne Brigade National Memorial Foundation Board gathered to formally dedicate a tree on the Memorial footprint in memory of Karen Riester. Rick Weik, President, spoke the following words:

“When those who did not know Karen read the dedication plaque, they will not know what she did but that she must have been someone special. Those of us who knew Karen do not require a living memorial to remind us just how special and what a gift to us she was. I first met Karen in the mid 1980’s at a 173d Airborne Association Annual Convention. She was hard to miss with her beautiful eyes, her flashing smile, and her radiating personality. Watching her participate in 173d Airborne Association events over the years, it became apparent that she was a formidable force with whom our mostly all male governing bodies needed to listen. Even before she became a formal member of the Memorial Foundation Board of Directors, she substantially influenced all aspects of our effort to create and build the beautiful memorial that honors our fallen. In her quiet way, she contributed more to our success than even most of us realized. As our Director of Protocol, she ensured that our programs honoring the Gold Star families – a passion of hers – were executed in a superb manner. When there was a protocol problem with guests at ceremonies, the problems seemed to evaporate when she addressed the situation. With Floyd, she devoted hours of effort to raise funds for our memorial. Whenever any Board member needed advice or help, she was always available. I would be remiss if I did not mention the unheralded life Karen lived. As a few examples of many I could mention, there are her substantial hours of work to assist families of Minnesota National Guard soldiers deploying to wartime theaters. There were her efforts with Catholic organizations for the betterment of the Church. For these and so many more areas of endeavor, she sought no honors or rewards, but the world is a better place because of what she did. Those of us who knew Karen well do not need a plaque or tree to remind us of who she was and how she impacted our lives. It would take a much larger plaque to do that. However, I do believe as she looks down from heaven on what we have done here today, she is smiling and saying, “A living memorial and a small, tasteful plaque. A bit overdone, but even without my direct help, you’ve got it right.”