Faribault Founders Would Be Proud
Faribault leaders Alexander Faribault and Bishop Henry Whipple would be very proud of their community if they were to appear in this time period. Before heading to the Faribault American Legion to assist with a free Thanksgiving Dinner for community members I stopped by the Faribault Middle School. The Infants Remembered in Silence 10th Annual Turkey Trot was winding down. Over 1,500 people participated with the 30 degree temperature feeling like 16 degrees thanks to the winds.
It was awesome to see people of all ages participating in the 5K run and walk, 10K run, tot trot and gobble wobble. This turkey greeted people at the finish line.
Serious runners and people who only take part in the one event a year were participating. Couples holding hands, high school and middle school classmates giggling as they crossed the finish line. Honoring those not able to have a full life by taking a small portion of their life to raise funds to assist the Infants Remembered in Silence organization.
Then it was off to the Faribault American Legion. We are so blessed to have the Legion provide the facility for the Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner. That's the name because the event is organized by members of the community and members of the community volunteer to prepare and serve the meal. Deliver meals and clean up.
I arrived early on purpose to find a purpose. I flipped plates onto a table where people placed slices of pumpkin pie on the plates. Some went for the in house meals and others were packaged for delivery.
When that was finished I went to the rear of the Faribault American Legion and joined scores of people making deliveries. I made six deliveries with 20 total meals in three separate excursions. There were scores of people to assist which is terrific because that way people could receive their hot meal in a timely fashion.
I had one recipient give me a grocery bag filled, to the top of the bag, with canned items for the food shelf. There was corn, baked beans, tomato soup, peas, cranberry sauce, you name it. Of course when I returned to the American Legion I placed them on a table with many other donated items.
One of the organizers of the event, Julie Fox told KDHL/POWER 96, 418 meals were delivered or picked up and 526 people served at the Faribault American Legion. That's a total of 944. Down a bit from recent years but still a huge success. Organizers did bump up the food production because they ran out of some food last year due to a very large turnout.
Alexander Faribault donated much of his land to the development of schools, churches and Calvary Cemetery where he is buried. He told Native Americans they could live on some of his land just outside what was then the Faribault city limits. According to some historians he was not a rich man when he passed from a stroke in 1882 at the age of 76.
On a plaque at Calvary Cemetery donated by the City of Faribault and the Knights of Columbus Council 889 Faribault in 1958. It states in part, "His life was noble, his virtues were Christian. Race or creed did not color his judgments. He saw in every man the image of God and thereby the possibility of making this a better place in which to live. He was a model for modern citizenship. May the spirit of his life be a benediction for future generations."
I think that spirit still exists in Faribault. I believe Alex (that's what it says on his grave marker) is grinning from ear to ear in Heaven when he sees the Turkey Trot and works of IRIS as well as the community organized Thanksgiving Dinner.
Bishop Whipple is well known for his support of Native Americans during the Dakota War of 1862 because he felt there was an abusive and corrupt Federal policy toward tribe members. He even took a train to Washington, D.C. to bend the ear of President Abraham Lincoln asking him for clemency for a group of Dakota or Sioux who fought against the United States government in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.
A total of 303 Native Americans were sentenced to be hanged but President Lincoln commuted the death sentences of 265 at Whipple's urging. Lincoln's intervention was not popular at the time.
"(Whipple) came (to D.C.) the other day (in the fall of 1862) and talked with me about the rascality of this Indian business until I felt it down to my boots."- Abraham Lincoln
38 were hanged on December 26, 1862. The largest mass execution in the United States.
I imagine not everyone in Faribault was a big Whipple fan either for what he did. He didn't care. He did what he believed in his heart was right.
I think Bishop Whipple's spirit is with us also and he smiles in Heaven when he sees what the residents of Faribault are doing to continue treating all humans with respect and dignity.
The Faribault community has a huge heart. Evidenced by the development in the 1860's of Shattuck, St. Mary's Hall, Seabury Divinity School, Bethlehem Academy, Minnesota School for the Deaf, Minnesota Braille and Sightsaving School (State Academy for the Blind) and the Faribault State Hospital.
The variety of educational opportunities earned Faribault the nickname, "Athens of the West."
Maybe our Faribault signs welcoming people to this city today should say, "Where all people are treated with dignity."