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Remembering the Price of Freedom

Those who gave service to their country were honored and remembered at Monday’s Veterans Day program at Living Waters Church in Alexandria. The ceremony included 5th grade students reading their award-winning essays about cemeteries and veterans. (Lowell Anderson/Echo Press)1 / 5
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Rachel Boyden from St. Mary’s School told the Veterans Day audience about the history of the Lake Mary Cemetery. (Echo Press)3 / 5
Brittany Ann Dietrich gave insights about an Orange Township cemetery, English Grove. It was the first cemetery filed with the Douglas County Cemetery Association. (Echo Press)4 / 5
Osakis 5th grader Cooper Skalsky talked about the life of Knute Nelson, a Civil War veteran who was captured by the Confederacy. (Lowell Anderson/Echo Press)5 / 5

The sacrifices of those who gave all were given a salute of appreciation at Alexandria’s Veterans Day program Monday.

In a first for the program, young people were also in the spotlight. Three 5th grade winners of an essay contest – “What stories can the stones tell?” – shared their thoughts about cemeteries and soldiers.

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The contest was organized and sponsored by the Douglas County Cemetery Association with assistance from the Alexandria VFW Post 936, Osakis VFW Post 7902, Runestone Electric Association’s Operation Round-Up and the Nelson Community Center.

The ceremony also included patriotic songs, presentation of colors, bugle playing, and special prayers.

Here are the essays the students read:

THE LIFE OF KNUTE NELSON By Cooper Skalsky, Osakis Knute Nelson was the 12th governor of Minnesota. Knute was born in Voss, Norway on February 2, 1843. In 1849 Knute immigrated to Chicago, Illinois with his mother. Later he moved to Wisconsin.

During the Civil War Knute served with the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. The hero was wounded during battle. To his dismay Knute was captured as a prisoner of war. The Confederates took Knute and held him hostage in Port Hudson, Louisiana.

When Nelson was released he returned up north to complete his studies in college (Albron College) in law. He was admitted to the bar in 1867 and established his own legal (of course) career in Cambridge, Wisconsin.

Knute entered politics in 1868 as a member of the Wisconsin Assembly. His position was held only until 1869.

After moving to Minnesota in 1872, Knute continued in public service. He was the Douglas County attorney from 1872 to 1874, then he was a member of the Minnesota State Senate 1874-1878.

This guy also served as a presidential elector on the 1880 Republican ticket. He also was a [Board of Regents member] University of Minnesota 1882-1893, also serving as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives 1883-1889.

Knute Nelson next secured the gubernatorial nomination and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 8, 1892. He was re-elected to a second term in 1894. During his tenure, a board of State Capitol commissioners was organized. And the Panic of 1893 was dealt with, as well as the 1894 forest fire that had devastated a large amount of Minnesota.

Knute resigned from office on January 31, 1895 upon his election to the U.S. Senate, a position he held until his death. Governor Knute Nelson passed on on April 28, 1923, and was buried in the Kinkead Cemetery in Alexandria, Minnesota.

His military service was in the National Guard. National office was a representative, senator. Party=Republican. He was born in Voss, Norway on February 2, 1843. He passed on April 28, 1923. He married Nicolina Jacobson and had five kids. Knute lived to be 80 years old.

LAKE MARY CEMETERY By Rachel Boyden, St. Mary’s School Lake Mary Cemetery was founded in 1881. It is one of the two cemeteries in the Lake Mary Township and we live right across the street.

According to local residents, there is a legend that the cemetery has glowing headstones. I’ve never seen them glowing, but a lot of people mention them when they find out where we live.

A family friend, who is a World War II veteran, is buried in the Lake Mary Cemetery. Roland James “Jim” Norling was with the U.S. Navy and stationed in Hawaii during the Pearl Harbor attack. After serving our country, he came home and made a life in Douglas County. He drove truck and worked for Douglas County until he retired in 1989. He died at the age of 87 on November 10, 2011, and was laid to rest at the Lake Mary Cemetery.

Our family likes to take walks over to the Lake Mary Cemetery and read about all of the people that are buried there. There are always a lot of flags on the graves around Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veterans Day.

Some people think that it would be scary to live next to a cemetery, but it’s not.

ORANGE TOWNSHIP CEMETERY, ENGLISH GROVE By Brittany Ann Dietrich, Osakis So you want to know what stories cemeteries can tell? Well, I have the perfect one, English Grove on West Cemetery Road SE in Osakis, MN. It was originally called Orange Grove.

English Grove is rich in stories. The stories come to life. I know what you are thinking, no I’m not a medium. I’m just a clerk’s daughter and I love to write!

Let’s start the info. English Grove Cemetery was established March of 1873 in the District 7 school house. It was the first cemetery filed with the Douglas County Cemetery Association. When it was established only three graves were there. One was of a child who died in a farming incident.

Now it consists of more than 25 graves. Some were destroyed due to years of no care, which reminds me that the cemetery was “closed” for years until being “reopened” by the current township board. Changes are being made. By the way, no cemetery can be closed as long as bodies are still there, it is just a term.

As you can see, cemeteries are rich with stories and culture. Why don’t you explore a cemetery some time. May I suggest English Grove?

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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