Letter: A bittersweet 2022 Veterans Day for family of military hero Corey Goodnature

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Veterans Day is a great event for the families of military service veterans of the United States Armed Services who were killed, maimed, dismembered or disabled in the line of military service for our great country. It is a time where local communities like Albert Lea can celebrate those veterans and the veterans that returned unscathed from their military postings.  

However, someone took the bloom off of the rose for locals Donald and Debra (Partlow) Goodnature this Veterans Day. Their son, Corey Goodnature was killed in Afghanistan while flying a helicopter on a rescue mission for military personnel under heavy attack.  His death occurred in late June of 2005. 

Given that event, the Goodnature family could have soured on life. Instead, the family established a foundation in their son’s name that has funded scholarships for dozens of local youths. Plus, everyone in Freeborn knows Donnie, who works tirelessly to support Albert Lea wrestling by servicing the pull tab and e-tab gambling machines for the Albert Lea Wrestling Association.

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However, someone spoiled Veterans Day 2022 for the Goodnature family. Here is that story.

Corey is buried at Graceland Cemetery in Albert Lea. Shortly after his death, Donnie and other family members and friends started finding dime coins in unusual locations.  They took those events as a sign that the spirit and memory of Corey lingers on.  

Donnie and his friends and family would take the dime coins and other medals and medallions to Corey’s gravesite and place those items of the base of his gravestone so that those items formed a ring around for the base of the gravestone. That custom has been ongoing for a decade and a half. That effort has been further bolstered by the motorcycle riders from the Albert Lea American Legion and other posts that make an annual stop at Corey’s grave to add items to the ring.

On this Veterans Day Donnie went to visit Corey’s grave.  What he found there was very upsetting. Someone had gathered up all of the coins and other items and absconded with the same. Who would do something like that and desecrate the gravesite? We don’t know but that person deserves to go to the Seventh Level of Purgatory (for acts of avarice), of Dante’s Inferno. If anyone has any information about this dastardly act, please notify the Goodnature family.

Meanwhile, you can do something to take the sting out of what happened. If you see Donnie or Debby out and about, please commiserate with them about what happened. Better yet, if you are in the vicinity of Graceland and have some spare change in your pocket, please stop by Corey’s grave and deposit the change at the base of the gravestone so we can all work to restore and reform that ring.

Kent Spellman 

Albert Lea