Honoring service

Students, citizens reflect on supporting military veterans

Photo by Deb Gau Members of the American Legion Honor Guard retired Marshall Middle School’s worn American flag and raised a new flag.

MARSHALL — A bitingly cold wind was blowing through the courtyard outside Marshall Middle School on Friday morning. But if students were uncomfortable, they didn’t show it, standing at attention while members of the American Legion raised a new American flag on the school flagpole.

The flag ceremony was one of the many ways area residents came together in their communities to pay respects to U.S. military service people. Veterans Day programs were held around southwest Minnesota.

Marshall High School students also reflected on the meaning of Veterans Day during part of a community program at the Adult Community Center. Local Boys State and Girls State participants read poems in honor of veterans.

The importance of supporting military servicepeople was one aspect of Carmen Brunsvold’s keynote address at the Marshall program. In many ways, Brunsvold said, soldiers’ families are the ones who feel it the most. In her address, Brunsvold spoke about her experiences both as a member of a military family, and as a Family Readiness Support Assistant for the 84th Troop Command of the Minnesota National Guard.

Family members on the home front have always had an important job to do in supporting members of the military, Brunsvold said.

“Military families know what it means to serve. Every day, they get up and support their service member,” she said. “They know to serve is an honor.”

It’s also a difficult experience, Brunsvold said. Seeing her husband and sons leave on overseas deployments was “one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.” But, she said, she was thankful to have support from other military families, and a supportive community.

Brunsvold thanked area soldiers and veterans for their service, and encouraged people to think of their family members, as well.

Respect for the sacrifices of military servicepeople was the focus at other area programs, too.

Fagen Fighters WWII Museum

Yellow Medicine East staff and students played a big part in the 64th annual Veterans Day celebration held at Fagen Fighters WWII Museum just south of Granite Falls Friday.

In addition to the traditional roll call by VFW Commander Matt Martin, YME students read letters and essays instead of the usual keynote speaker.

Principal Ryan Luft gave the introductory and closing comments. The YME Concert Band, directed by Kristen Castiglione, performed the “Star Spangled Banner” by John Philip Sousa and other numbers throughout the program. The YME Concert Choir sang the “Armed Forces — The Pride of America” by Greg Gilpin, accompanied by Joan Lundell. The middle school choir joined the concert choir on “God Bless the USA,” directed by Jeff Iverson with solos by Iverson and school staff member Ben Lecy.

Lakeview Public School

At Lakeview Public School in Cottonwood, history teacher Bill Palmer organized the Veterans Day commemoration held Friday morning.

Palmer, along with American Legion Post 503 Commander Steve Alm, gave the message for the day: “Reflections about their military service and what they learned from their service.”

Speaking first, Palmer told about the good dreams he still had about his time in the service, but that other veterans still have nightmares.

“The heroes are the ones who did not come home,” Palmer said. “Find a way to serve — that would be a way to honor our servicemen and women.”

Alm said that he had been a normal kid like many of the high schoolers in attendance and that he wanted to have some say in his life. The Air Force helped him do that. He eventually rose in the ranks of radio communications intercept, pretty much a spy, he said. Alm used humor to get through his talk which involved being present in the Philippines when prisoners of war from Vietnam were released at the end of the war. It was an emotional first stop for them on their way home.

“They cried, and I cried with them,” Alm said. It was an eye-opener for “Cool Dude Steve” who had always been a “tough guy.”