DANBURY, Iowa (KCAU) — More than 100 years ago, Harry Earl Ralph Otto made the ultimate sacrifice when fighting for his country in France. On Saturday, members of the community of Danbury celebrated his legacy once more.
“He actually died on November 7, 1918, and his body remained there until October of 1921, which is 100 years ago, and at that time, his body came back to Danbury,” said Bob Otto, the great-nephew of Harry Otto.
Harry Otto’s name lives on in the Danbury and Mapleton area when his body was buried at the then-Hartleben Cemetery; more than 1,500 people attended the service according to local newspapers. After the funeral, the cemetery was renamed to honor Otto’s sacrifice.
Thanks in large part to the works of Harry’s great-nephew, a ceremony was held Saturday to pay tribute to their lost family member who gave his all protecting his country. Over the course of a century, parts of the Otto family have left the area but many came home on Thanksgiving weekend to be a part of the event.
“Their children have left the area and moved on to other parts, and so, us being close, we thought it was time to recognize his sacrifice for our freedoms and democracy that we have today,” said Otto.
The tribute truly was a small family reunion as Harry’s great-great-niece Molly sang the National Anthem and America the Beautiful while another great-great-niece Megan and her son Branden, of Danbury, played taps.
Members of Danbury’s Carlson-Frum Post 336 and Mapleton’s Loren-Hollister Post 496 American Legions were also in attendance to give the military salute.
“It’s very special to see his relatives come back here for Memorial Day and today. As my wife said earlier, it’s hard to look around here and find someone that I’m not related to, you know, and that’s kind of a symbol,” said Otto.
A Danbury resident delivered a poem at the cemetery honoring Otto. The last sentence of the poem: “Harry Earl Ralph Otto, his name. His initials spell hero, his fame.”