HOLDINGFORD, Minn. (WCCO) – The Fourth of July weekend is a time to give thanks to the men and women serving our country. No one knows that better than a family from Holdingford.

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Last year, while Christine Schreiner’s son, Lance Cpl. Andrew Schreiner, was serving in Afghanistan, she started a message board for him on her horse barn.

That giant message board was a popular stop before our story aired last July. And the family says afterwards, it really took off.

Andrew is a marine and he’s currently in San Diego right now. But even with him temporarily back, the messages keep coming in; messages which have turned a simple horse barn in the middle of Stearns County into a patriotic symbol, and a troop-supporting destination.

“We’ve gone through three Sharpies,” Christine said.

The media attention Andrew’s message received last summer drew people from as far away as Kentucky, Nebraska and Missouri.

“It was never ending, and I loved, we both loved every second of it,” she said.

Russ Stanger helped Christine write the initial message on the barn.

“For like three days I sat on our steps and greeted people as they came,” Russ said.

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And to the surprise of some, they are still coming.

“When I woke up this morning I looked out the window and there were just two motorcycles pulling way. And when I walked out here and looked, and there were two new signatures,” he said.

Some of the older messages have faded, but not the meaning behind them.

“It all started with one little marine. OK, he’s not little, he’s like 6’3”, but he used to be my little marine,” she said.

Andrew Schreiner returned home from Afghanistan in October, but Christine says this isn’t just about Andrew. It’s also for moms and dads whose sons and daughters can’t be home for the Fourth of July because they are busy making their country proud.

“He’s like, ‘Mom, I’m doing my job. I’m not the only one here.’ And that just makes me love him even more for that,” Christine said.

Of the dozens of people who’ve stopped by to sign the barn, a couple stick out in particular to Christine and Russ. One veteran gave them a frying pan from his mess kit that had a picture of Andrew inside.

They also had one man show up who was very emotional because his son was in the service, and it was the first birthday he couldn’t spend with him.

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It is possible that Andrew could be sent overseas at some point again. But for now he’s stationed with his fellow marines in California.

John Lauritsen