BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Flags for Fort Snelling surpassed its goal of $225,000 to place an American flag on the more than 200,000 headstones at Fort Snelling National Cemetery on Memorial Day, and Delano High School junior Alexis Oldenburg raised $6,500 toward that accomplishment as part of her requirement to be inducted into the National Honor Society.
“When I signed up for NHS, I knew I needed an individual service project, and it took me a really long time to think of one,” Oldenburg said. “I was going through different ideas with my parents, and this one popped up.”
She ran the idea by NHS advisor Lydia Wissink.
“I thought it was a very cool idea,” Wissink said. “I was glad she picked a project that was close to her heart and would touch many people, both near and far.”
The cause is important to Oldenburg because her uncle was buried at Fort Snelling in May 2016, and her grandfather was buried there this past winter. While her family lives nearby and can tend to her relatives’ headstones, she knows that is not the case for everyone.
“There are so many people there that their burial stones have been there so long, and they might not have family that are still here, or family that live close enough,” Oldenburg said. “I just think that everyone should be memorialized the same way my uncle and grandpa get to be. I just think it’s really important that we all come together, even if just for this one day, to thank them and memorialize them for giving us the freedom we have now.”
Many people and organizations agreed with Oldenburg.
She started out by approaching the Osseo American Legion due to a family connection there. Delano American Legion also contributed to the cause, as did the Bloomington post, and other organizations and businesses.
“Everyone has been so supportive, and I’m so happy that I put myself out there to ask them because, originally, before I asked anyone for donations, I didn’t really want to go in to them,” Oldenburg said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know if they’re going to want to give money for this 16-year-old girl who’s asking for donations for this ISP.
“But, no, as soon as I went in and told everyone about what I was doing, everyone was super supportive and really wanted to help out, which I think is just amazing,” she continued.
Wissink is impressed with Oldenburg’s efforts.
“We are so proud of Alexis,” Wissink said. “It is always wonderful to see a student’s hard work pay off.”
She is proud but not surprised, as she has witnessed the outcomes of many students’ volunteerism and projects.
Examples range from ongoing fundraisers such as a fresh fruit sale and the Jingle Run to food, clothing and book drives. Other ambitious ISPs include raising funds for a soccer field in Uganda and filling 55 gift bags for firefighters in Delano and Loretto.
“The students in NHS are all amazing kids with truly giving hearts,” Wissink said. “The four pillars of NHS are scholarship, leadership, service, and character, and each NHS member truly shows this in their daily lives. (Fellow advisor) Emilie Kalvig and I are so proud of all our NHS students.”
As for Oldenburg, she and others will be placing flags at Fort Snelling Saturday, May 26.
Those interested in volunteering with Flags for Fort Snelling can learn more by visiting www.flagsforfortsnelling.com.