Herald JournalHerald Journal, June 2, 2003

Memorial Day observed in local communities


By Ryan Gueningsman

Holy Trinity Principal Todd Stejskal's grandfather was a World War I veteran who lived to be 102 years old, was stubborn, witty, and one of the best horseshoe players Stejskal has ever seen.

"When he talked about going up hill both ways . . . coming from him it was very believable," Stejskal said in his Memorial Day address last Monday.

"During his time, he had to do certain things to survive. It was not an easy life compared to what we have now. He had an eighth grade education, and had to rely on common sense," Stejskal said.

Compared to the days of Stejskal's grandfather, people are now given more choices and freedoms.

"We still work, and each have our personal struggles, but it is a far better life," he said.

The better life that we have now wouldn't be the way it is if it hadn't been for those who came before us. he said. There are memorials dedicated to keeping those memories alive, such as in Washington D.C., and also locally.

"Our most significant memorials are our families, our children, and our communities," he said. "They are the living memorials that symbolize a way of life, and successful struggle for freedom."

The most patriotic thing we can do is keep living our lives, Stejskal said. "Go to school, go to work, travel, vote, take part in your community, and just live your life."

Several plaques of recognition were given out at the Memorial Day service.

Jeff Campbell received a book and recognition for his playing of "Taps" at many previous services.

Luke Otto also received a plaque of recognition for his years of serving as master of ceremonies for different programs as part of the Legion.

Howard Lake

By Lynda Jensen

Sunshine and a light breeze accompanied Howard Lake's Memorial Day services last Monday.

Legion Commander Jerry Pettit described Memorial Day as the "solemnist of days," saying it isn't a three-day weekend or a chance for holiday, but a time to pause and remember those responsible for keeping our freedom.

Gary Schmidt recounted the story of a young American soldier who wrote a letter home to his mother before being killed during the War with Iraq.

This letter was printed in a magazine recently.

"Fighting and dying has always been the work of the young," Schmidt noted, saying that the average age of a soldier is 19.

"We have no king or queen ­ only Lady Liberty," Schmidt said.


By Lynda Jensen

The moving account of two brothers in the Army highlighted Waverly's Memorial Day services last Monday.

Keynote speaker Dan Herbst told the story of Ray and Bernard Fitzpatrick, formerly of Waverly, who both served during World War II.

Bernard is one of the last survivors of the Bataan Death March, which took place on the Phillippines when the Japanese out-supplied his tank battalion there.

Of 11,000 soldiers who started marching, only 1,000 lived, Herbst said.

Bernard Fitzpatrick was urged by his family to write a book about his experience, which he did. It is called "Hike Into the Sun," and is in its fourth publication.

In his book, Bernard describes how some fellow Minnesotans tried to swim to freedom instead of surrendering to the Japanese before the march took place. The next day, their batallion witnessed bodies wash ashore of these men.

Bernard endured captivity and eventually returned home ­ quietly and without bitterness, Herbst said.

The other brother, Raymond, participated in all five major campaigns of the war, from Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge.

In his experience, Herbst said, this generation of young soldiers is no different than the World War II generation.

The idea that modern soldiers are disrespectful and selfish is not true, he said; pointing to a number of different instances where young soldiers in Iraq demonstrated unselfish acts and exhibited their own heroism.

For example, one time a CNN correspondent offered his phone to some soldiers for a few precious minutes right before an assault in Iraq. The soldiers immediately passed the phone to a fellow soldier who spoke with his wife, who was expecting their child.

Lester Prairie

By Troy Feltmann

Bright sunshine filled the sky for the Memorial Day service in Lester Prairie last Monday.

Members of the Legion, Legion Auxiliary, police and fire departments, Cub Scouts, and Lester Prairie school band marched from city hall out to the cemetery.

Legion Commander Joe Casavant welcomed everyone and Pastor Sherri Sandoz gave the invocation.

After 30 seconds of silence, State Representative Tony Kielkucki took the podium. He joked about how he barely made it there because of the special session.

Kielkucki's speech dealt with what Memorial Day was like when he was a child and his father, who fought in battles during World War II.

He reminded the audience not to forget about soldiers in Iraq.

General Logan's Orders were read by Andrew Grunloh, Boys State Representative. Emily Duncan read Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

The Lester Prairie High School Band played the Star-Spangled Banner, America, and America the Beautiful.

Tom Schwichtenberg, the Post Adjutant, read the roll call of deceased veterans.

The Legion Auxiliary presented a floral tribute. The firing squad shot rounds to salute the dead and Kristi Fillbrandt, member of the high school band, played "Taps."

Pastor Sandoz gave the benedication and Legion members marched out of the cemetery.

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