A man from Anoka, Minn. has a passion that runs so deep, he's just about given up the farm for it. John Enstrom created a little piece of paradise on his property, not for himself, but for veterans. It's called Veteran’s Lake, and next week, he's inviting disabled veterans to come out and take a break as he hosts a free fishing tournament.
For Enstrom, who never served himself, honoring veterans is a way of life. That way of life led him to build Veteran’s Lake -- and alongside it, a memorial to Minnesotans who died in the war on terrorism, a war that's not even over yet.
“I don't wait forty years to tip my waitress and I don't wait forty years to tip our veterans who have given all to support us,” Enstrom said of his project.
During the Nixon Era, Enstrom was making parts for bombs and the Vietnam War was raging. Fully expecting to serve after being drafted 98, Enstrom was surprised when Richard Nixon dropped it to 95, meaning he didn’t have to head overseas to fight.
His friends though weren't as fortunate.
“His number was 95 -- he went, and didn't return,” Enstrom said of a friend who died while fighting in Vietnam.
That inspired his vision for veterans so he started digging the lake designed to be a special place for veterans to take a break.
“I've put in hundreds of thousands of dollars into this park, of my own money,” he said.
There are gardens planted for each branch of the military and reminders that this is a special place for those who have sacrificed.
His latest mission, a fishing tournament for disabled veterans, is set for next week which is all wheelchair accessible. For his 2007 tournament, 150 disabled veterans turned out and he's hoping for the same this time around.
“If you line up marines here, and army guys there, and navy guys there, and coast guard guys there, and seals, they all sit there swapping tales and stories. It's awesome," he said.
Enstrom stresses that both physically and mentally disabled are welcome.
“One wound you don't see is the Post Traumatic Stress and those people we need out here badly. Because they need a time out. Come out and see what we can do for 'em," he said.
Information about the tournament can be found here.