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Veterans Day program has new twist

Veteran organizations need more members.

Young people should be more aware of the sacrifices veterans have made in defending the country’s freedom through the generations.

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Cemetery associations are having a hard time maintaining graveyards where many veterans are laid to rest.

On Monday, organizers of the Veterans Day program in Alexandria hope to address all three of those issues with a ceremony filled with patriotic themes, music and a unique set of speakers – three local 5th graders.

The students will read their winning essays in a new contest titled, “What stories can the stones tell?”

They were encouraged to visit family cemeteries, interview family members, talk with local military veterans or their families, ask questions of local cemetery boards, or review cemetery archives at the Douglas County Historical Society.

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 essays revealed interesting information about local history and veterans, according to Gabe Pipo, organizer of the Veterans Day program. One essay, for example, noted that Alexandria’s famous U.S. Senator and 12th governor of Minnesota, Knute Nelson, was held as a prisoner of war during the Civil War.

Veteran organizations are hurting for members right now, Pipo said, as many of the older veterans aren’t around anymore.

Cemetery associations are doing a good job maintaining cemeteries but it takes a lot of money to keep the grounds and the graves in good shape. If associations don’t have the funds to do it, the responsibility would shift to townships, Pipo said.

“So we’ve got to get more people involved,” he said. “We don’t want that expense to come back at taxpayers.”

Monday’s ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. with a welcome and introduction of honorary guests, who include the local commanders of the American Legion and VFW, the Auxiliary president, Disabled American Veterans, Purple Heart recipients, Blue Star Mothers, Gold Star Mothers, military families and the 5th graders.

This will be followed by an invocation, the American Legion’s flag presentation ceremony and the Pledge of Allegiance. Those attending will sing the chorus of Lee Greenwood’s Proud to be an American.

Other events include bugle playing, the National Anthem, the posting of the POW/MIA Flag, a silent prayer, Taps, a remembrance prayer, singing of America, the 5th grade essay readings, retirement of the colors and a bugler’s call, Retreat. Refreshments will follow the ceremony, which is expected to take about an hour.

Other communities throughout the area are planning Veterans Day programs Monday.

In Osakis, a ceremony will take place at 10:15 a.m. in the Osakis High School Fine Arts Auditorium.

FREE BREAKFASTS FOR VETERANS The Alexandria Elks will salute veterans with a free breakfast on Monday. Pancakes, sausage and eggs will be served free for veterans and active military personnel from 8 to 10:30 a.m.

In addition, Nationwide Housing Corporation and Maple Ridge Manor are thanking veterans for their service with a “Breakfast of Champions.” Veterans are invited to stop at the Maple Ridge Manor rental office at 321 Unumb Court in Alexandria to pick up some coffee, juice, muffin and a flag.

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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