Local veterans organizations will hold private ceremonies to recognize the fallen

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is sponsoring a virtual Memorial Day program in partnership with Twin Cities PBS-TPT. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic prohibits the live events traditionally held at the three State Veterans Cemeteries located in Little Falls, Preston and Duluth.

“The COVID-19 pandemic requires a new approach to our traditional Memorial Day events,” said MDVA Commissioner Larry Herke. “ This year we will mark this special day in a new and different way, but with the same goal: to honor and pay our respects to Minnesota Veterans who have passed.”

TPT has created a 30-minute Memorial Day program entitled “Always Remember: A Minnesota Tribute to Veterans We’ve Lost,” that will be broadcast across the state on TPT’s Minnesota Channel at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 25 and on TPT2 Sunday, May 31 at 8 a.m. The program can also be livestreamed online from the TPT website. The program will be rebroadcast on TPT several times throughout June and July and will also be available online after it premieres.

The program will include remarks from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Commissioner Herke, personal stories from both Gold Star mothers and Veterans about those we have lost and honor on Memorial Day, as well as music and a rifle salute traditionally included in a live event.

Throughout Morrison County, members of veterans service groups such as the American Legion and VFW, will hold private ceremonies to honor fallen veterans on Monday, May 25; the public will not be invited to join them.

While the Hillman American Legion Post 602 canceled its yearly bus trip to 11 different cemeteries, members will still place flags on veterans’ graves, as will those in other areas of the county.

In Pierz, the Pierz American Legion will hold a short prayer service and military honors at the Veterans Memorial in Pierz Monday, at 10 a.m. Members of the public have not been invited, to keep attendance to a bare minimum, said Legionnaire Jim Gerwing.

In Little Falls, members of the American Legion Richard Howard Ferrell Post 46 and Arthur Bernard VFW Post 112, will hold a Memorial Day service, Monday, at the Morrison County Veterans Memorial Park on Broadway East, Little Falls, at 10 a.m. “to remember those who gave their lives, so we could be free,” said a notice about the fact that the event is happening. It included the statement: “This service will not be open to the public because of social distancing.”

Dan Swanson, commander of VFW Post 9073 in Randall, said members will perform honors at 9 a.m. at St. James Catholic Cemetery in Randall and head to Veterans Park, the Randall Community Cemetery and Cushing Cemetery, Monday. If anyone does show up, Swanson asks that they keep their distance.

“We veterans want to honor our fellow veterans, so that’s what we are going to do,” Swanson said. “As a country, we have conditions and we have to keep them, otherwise we will lose ourselves.”

Flags

Tony Wenzel of Randall shot this photo of the veterans’ graves at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls after a past Memorial Day program. This year, while a program will not be held at the cemetery due to the COVID-19 pandemic and orders not to gather in groups of more than 10 people, a virtual program has been put together and will be available for everyone to view.

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