BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN “We gather together to remember, to honor, and to pay gratitude to those who have served our country,” Army Col. Scot. A. Doboszenski told more than 300 people gathered at Central Park Monday for a Memorial Day service. “Our gathering is just one small spark in the flame of pride that burns across the nation today and every day.”
Doboszenski documented how that flame of pride has been fanned over the years.
He quoted George Washington as saying, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”
Several years later, in 1863, Decoration Day was born in the South, as grieving loved ones were cleaning the gravesites of Confederate soldiers when they noticed Union soldiers’ gravesites that were dirty and overgrown with weeds.
“They cleared the tangled brush and mud from those graves, as well as their own soldiers’ graves, and laid flowers on them,” Doboszenski said.
In 1868, Decoration Day was established and set to be observed May 30.
Doboszenski noted it was more than 100 years later, in 1971, that Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday.
Congress went a step further in December 2000, passing the National Moment of Remembrance Act, which encourages all Americans to pause at 3 p.m. each Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.
Doboszenski thanked those present for taking time to honor fallen soldiers.
“Your presence here today is a tribute to those lost troops and to their families,” Doboszenski said. “From the soldiers who shivered and starved through the winter at Valley Forge, to the doughboys crouched in the muddy trenches of France, to the platoons who patrolled the hazy jungles of Vietnam, to the young men and women patrolling the mountains of Afghanistan, we remember and honor them all.”
He named five of his fallen comrades and his late father-in-law Michael Gordon, “one of the 58,220 Vietnam veterans who were not remembered by our nation appropriately.”
He said President Barack Obama signed a proclamation May 28, 2012, identifying the period through Nov. 11, 2025, as the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, during which all government officials are called upon to honor all the nation’s Vietnam War veterans and their families.
“I have taken this request to heart to say, ‘Thank you,’ to Vietnam veterans and remember their service to our country,” Doboszenski said. “We are going to right a wrong that was done to those men and women.”
He added that he would personally like to attend a local event to distribute commemorative pins and proclamations to local Vietnam War veterans.
Medals and honors only go so far, though, he said.
“We have awarded medals to many soldiers, added their names to monuments and dedicated buildings after them, to honor them for their bravery,” Doboszenski said. “But, nothing, nothing, can ever replace the hole left behind by a fallen service member, and no number of medals and ribbons can comfort the loved ones.”
In closing, he reminded those in attendance that “freedom is not free, evident by those fallen we pay tribute to today.”
That message was reinforced by Dale Vander Linden’s recital of “In Flanders Fields,” American Legion Post 377 Commander Jack Lynch’s reading the names of Delano residents who died in war, and Delano American Legion Auxiliary President Sam Wickert’s reading the names of Post 377 members who passed in the past year.
Lynch, in announcing this would be his last program as commander, urged everyone present to never take a knee for the flag or the national anthem, which had been performed by the Delano High School band, along with the song “American Spirit.”