Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, June 5, 2000

Memorial Day: remembering those who served


By Andrea Vargo

Cold wind whipped small flags attached to the tops of rows of crosses. A few raindrops fell from the gray sky.

But that didn't keep hundreds of people of all ages from attending the Waverly Memorial Day service last Monday.

Led by Post Commander Charlie Borrell, they were gathered together to honor the deceased men and women of Charles Claessens American Legion Post 305.

The Reverend Bob Wiley of St. Mary's Catholic Church said a prayer to begin the ceremony, followed by keynote speaker United States Representative David Minge (DFL).

Minge shared memories of his own father, a World War II veteran.

When the call came to form a special outfit that might possibly be used to invade Norway, Minge said his dad, a surgeon from Montevideo, filled out the papers to volunteer.

One of the questions was, "Do you speak a foreign language?"

During the interview, the recruiter said to Minge, "Don't you know you have to be able to speak Norwegian to join this outfit? You didn't check the box for a foreign language."

"This is Montevideo. Norwegian isn't a foreign language here," replied Minge's dad.

Other than that, Minge said his dad never talked about the war, much like most of the veterans.

Only after his dad died in 1981, did he find out more from some old letters and from attending reunions of his dad's outfit.

His dad had never seen a starving child before or a shelled out city. At one point, the outfit came upon a concentration camp several days after it had been liberated, and he saw bodies "stacked like cordwood."

The silence about those things made a deep impression on Minge.

"How difficult is it to express (feelings about those things)? For those of us who haven't seen the horrors of war, it is difficult to understand . . . the trauma," Minge said.

"One of the lessons to draw from this is, certainly, to honor and respect the men and women who served our country. That same honor and respect is due to those who are still living," he said.

"We must maintain a commitment to health care for our veterans who are still living," Minge added.

"We need to learn from our veterans the importance of maintaining peace in the world.

"We have a stewardship to maintain the freedoms and traditions, passing on the ideals of a democratic society," he stated.

"This country has 220 years of liberties and institutions (that need to) be passed on to our children and grandchildren," Minge said.

Howard Lake

By Andrea Vargo

Nestled under the huge, dark pine trees, grave stones mark the final resting place of many of the Howard Lake veterans that served their country.

After a welcome by Howard Lake Legion Post 145 Commander Jerry Pettit, the Reverend Marvin Repinski gave the invocation at the Howard Lake Memorial Day service last Monday.

Main speaker retired Brigadier General Curtis Norenberg told the assembly that "this day of deep reflection has become one of America's oldest traditions.

"It was born in the mid 1860s of the compassion and understanding of grieving mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters throughout the North and the South, during the War of Independence," he said.

" . . . even before the fighting ended, southern women had begun the practice of placing flowers on the graves of fallen Confederate and Federal soldiers.

"Soon the tradition of a 'Decoration Day' for the graves of fallen soldiers spread throughout the nation," Norenberg said.

"The country must do more than honor and respect the veterans. It must face the challenge to maintain and deliver the peace that the world counts upon us for," he said.

People throughout the world have witnessed the kindness and sacrifice of our military personnel, Norenberg said.

"The Berlin airlift lends just a single glimpse of their generosity. By the end of the airlift in 1948, nearly three million tons of food, coal, and other necessities had poured into Berlin by American and allied forces," he noted.

"Ask any child in any foreign land what they remember about the American G.I. and many will talk about the gift of candy, a hopeful smile, or the sign of a thumbs-up.

"People from countries devastated by war had little to offer our American forces for their liberation except their thanks and gratitude," Norenberg said.

It has never been more vital that those of us who understand the importance of American values, who understand the importance of our military history, keep alive the spirit of America's fallen heroes, he said.

Brave Americans have been buying our freedom and protecting our interests with their lives in wars and conflicts since the first colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775, he stated.

"We continue to offer our debt of gratitude to those who gave their lives by not forgetting. Let us never forget what they did or what they died for.

"Let us never forget the grit and determination with which they fought, often in the face of overwhelming odds.

"Let us never forget for one moment that their acts were made out of love for our country, love for freedom, and peace in the world," Norenberg said.

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