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
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
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
"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
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
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
"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.