By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, COKATO, KINGSTON, DARWIN, MN As a day set aside to remember and honor those who fought and died in service to our nation, there are several Memorial Day events planned in the area.
Cokato Memorial Day
The Memorial Day program in Cokato will be Monday, May 30, beginning with a rifle salute at the Stockholm Lutheran Church cemetery at 7:30 a.m., followed by the Raising of Colors at Veterans’ Memorial Park on Brooks Lake.
The parade will begin at 10:15 a.m., starting at Cokato Elementary. It will proceed along Broadway Avenue to Millard Avenue and back to the school, where there will be a program in the auditorium featuring keynote speaker, former Navy reservist Ron Hungerford.
Hungerford, who is currently a Dassel-Cokato High School science teacher, entered into the Navy Reserve in July 1973, and immediately went to college as a navel cadet in the University of Minnesota NROTC program.
Following graduation, he received a commission in 1977 as an unrestricted line officer on active duty.
He served in various capacities including as first lieutenant aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Seas.
He retired with the rank of Lieutenant Commander in 1994 after his final tour of duty on the Naval Surface Forces, Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, VA.
Dassel Memorial Day
Dassel’s Memorial Day program will begin with a short parade featuring the Dassel-Cokato Marching Band at 8:45 a.m. Monday, May 30, beginning at the elementary school and ending at the Dassel Community Cemetery located on County Road 4.
At that time, there will be a program that will include a flag-raising ceremony by the Paul F. Dille American Legion Post.
The keynote speaker will be Nicholas Dille, son of former state senator Steve Dille.
Nicholas, a 1996 Litchfield High School graduate and former resident of the Dassel area, is a Reservist in the US Army. He is currently serving as company commander of the aviation unit in Tampa Bay, FL.
He served active duty in the US Army from 2000 to 2008, and has been stationed in Alabama, Korea, Texas, and now Florida.
The two years he served in Korea, Nicholas was a platoon leader and then a linguistics officer.
Following the Memorial Day program at the cemetery, the public is welcome to the Dassel History Center and Ergot Museum for refreshments provided by the Dassel Area Historical Society.
Darwin Memorial Day
Retired Minnesota Army National Guard Captain Patrick Hansen will be the keynote speaker for the 10th annual Darwin Lakes Area Memorial Day program Monday, May 30. The event begins at 10:30 a.m. at Hantge Funeral Chapel in Darwin.
The program will begin with a welcome by Darwin Mayor Josh Johnson, along with an invocation by Father John Pearson of St. John’s Catholic Church.
Following the keynote speaker, there will be a balloon release at 11 a.m. with the Litchfield Military Honor Guard and refreshments.
Hansen, who lives in Darwin with his wife, Mary, and their six children, owns Bonniwell Electric, Inc. He is a third-generation resident of Darwin.
He began his military career when he enlisted in what was Company D 682nd Engineer Battalion in Litchfield in August 1978.
Hansen received basic training and combat engineer training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO and in July 1979, was called to state active duty to guard grain terminals and refineries in the Twin Cities during a national truckers’ strike.
Among his accomplishments, Hansen was promoted to captain in 1988, and commanded in Hutchinson, which included a detachment in Redwood Falls from 1993 to 1995.
Hansen retired in 1998, with 20 years of service.
Kingston Memorial Day program
Kingston will host a Memorial Day observance at the Kingston Apostolic Lutheran Church cemetery, located on the corner of Highway 15 and CSAH 27, beginning at 10 a.m.
The speaker will be Steve Dille.
Cokato Finnish American Historical Society program
The Cokato Finnish American Historical Society will host a Memorial celebration Saturday, May 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Temperance Corner (three miles north of Cokato on County Road 3).
The celebration will begin with a bake sale at 10 a.m.; a light lunch will also be served.
The program will begin at noon followed by a raffle drawing. Prizes include two $50 cash prizes, a handcrafted Sami doll, and a handmade afghan.
The program will include a presentation on the history of the Sami people, by Vicki Lantto. The Sami people lived in the vast northern region of Scandinavia.
The honored veteran will be Lloyd Salmela, who was drafted in the Army and spent 15 months in Germany, from 1951 to 1952.
Salmela has been a member of the Cokato Finnish American Historical for 50 years, as well as a member of the Cokato American Legion Post 209 for 54 years.