‘Every person deserves to be remembered’

Veterans Memorial Park is available for celebration of life

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Local musician Patty Kakac sang “God Bless America” at the celebration of life service Wednesday, Sept. 16, as those in attendance waved their flags. (Jasmine Johnson / Echo Press)

Families of veterans may now choose whether they’d like to hold memorial services for their loved ones at the Veterans Memorial Park in Alexandria.

The first such celebration of life service was held Wednesday, Sept. 16. Alexandria resident Sally Baumann had called and asked whether her brother-in-law’s name could be inscribed on a monolith, since he was from Wisconsin. She said the answer was an enthusiastic yes, any soldier can be honored at the Veterans Memorial Park.

The service was for James Freiberg, 99, who died Aug. 9. Freiberg served in the Air Force during World War II as a photographer in England, flying low over bombed sites to send back information.

Alexandria resident Sally Baumann (left) shared about her brother-in-law’s role in the Air Force at the Veterans Memorial Park Sept. 16. Greg Billberg of First Lutheran Church officiated the celebration of life service. (Jasmine Johnson / Echo Press)


Baumann talked about Freiberg’s service in the war and shared a powerful experience she had bringing her niece to the Veterans Memorial Park for the first time.

Greg Billberg of First Lutheran Church officiated the service and commented on the significance of holding it at the park.

“This beautiful space in our community is going to be meaningful for years and years to come,” Billberg said. “Every person deserves dignity. Every person deserves to be remembered.”

For more information about the park, go to or call 320-460-8303.

Russ Oorlog, chairman of the Veterans Memorial Park Committee, spoke at the conclusion of the celebration of life service Wednesday. (Jasmine Johnson / Echo Press)

Jasmine Johnson joined the Echo Press staff in May 2020 as a general assignment reporter. She grew up in Becker, Minn., and later studied journalism and graphic design at Bethel University in Arden Hills, Minn.
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