Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, November 16, 1998

Veterans honored in Winsted

By LUIS E. PUGA

"If it is only a flag, why do we find unabashed tears in our eyes when we hear the boast that our flag was still there?"

These words from Winsted American Legion member Luke Otto were given to an assembly of veterans and residents of St. Mary's Care Center Wednesday.

In honor of Veterans Day, a small program was presented including prayer, and a round of "My Country 'Tis of Thee."

Later that evening, the Winsted Legion Post was the scene of remembrances. Emcee and Post Commander Dick Genty led the evening in jokes, but was also mindful of the day when he told the crowd of area veterans who were in the hospital.

Legion members had visited with veterans at St. Mary's and in Howard Lake, as well as HLWW High School.

On hand was State Rep. Tony Kielkucki (Rep-20B), who spoke for the majority of the evening. He recounted the sacrifices that his father and uncles made in World War II.

Kielkucki recalled that his father did not discuss the war in front of him, but that the movie "Saving Private Ryan" had brought him closer to understanding his father's experiences.

Kielkucki also discussed the sacrifice veterans from all wars had made and asked rhetorically why they "heeded the call."

He answered with "freedom," and spoke of responsibility to preserve it. "Freedom is worth the cost," he said.

He went on to thank veterans for their sacrifices, saying that the liberties we have today are due to their service to our country. He pointed to freedom as the right to life and alluded to liberty in outcome of the governor's election.

Mostly, he emphasized the importance of passing on patriotism to young people, saying, "Freedom doesn't mean we can do whatever we want."

The event, which included dinner, was also an evening of presenting continuous service stars.

Of note, Luke Otto and Dick Sterner received stars for 55 years.

Present at both St. Mary's and the Legion dinner was Isabelle Brose, a Gold Star Mother who lost her son in Vietnam.

As the evening concluded, Legion Chaplain Gordon Kubasch included prayers for the soldiers headed for possible action in the Middle East.


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