Although the Memorial Day ceremony at the Stillwater Veterans Memorial is canceled due to precautions taken as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stillwater will still see a flyover of a squadron of T-6 Thunder airplanes at noon on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25 to honor St. Croix Valley area casualties of war.
Four World War Two era fighter trainer aircraft will again be making their traditional overflight of Stillwater, approaching downtown along the river from the north, overflying the Stillwater Veterans Memorial, making multiple concentric circles around the town, ending with a final flight over the Memorial and departing to the southwest where they’ll fly over Stillwater Middle School and Stillwater Area High School. In honor of those who attended Stillwater area schools, and died while serving their country during wartime, the flight team will occasionally drop smoke along their flight path, with a particular emphasis during their overflight of the memorial and two schools as they depart the Stillwater pattern. With the focal point of the flyover being the Stillwater Veterans Memorial, located on the south hill of Stillwater off Pine Street, between 3rd and 4th Streets, and just north of the Historic
Washington County Courthouse, the carillon and tolling bells of St. Michael and St. Mary Catholic Churches will provide symbolic accompaniment of this symbolic, solemn event.
In description of the flyover, Chair of the Stillwater Veterans Memorial, David Ratte, said, “Despite the necessary cancellation of this ever-popular gathering in Stillwater to honor its war dead, the Veterans Memorial Board members felt it was never more important to keep our commitment to remember our heroes in this small way. Indeed, because we asked the flight team to fly additional laps around the city, our hope is that more citizens than ever before will be able to join together as one to honor our fallen comrades by simply walking out to their driveways at high noon on Memorial Day and look to the sky while remembering the ultimate sacrifice made on their behalf by what currently amounts to 125 former students of Stillwater area schools.”
The overflight is being performed by the North American Flight Team in T-6 Thunder aircraft. This group has been in operation 25 years, conducting flyovers of veteran memorials, cemetery burials, ceremonies, parades, air shows, fundraising events, and this year even in place of graduation ceremonies. The T-6 flyovers have grown by word of mouth from 10-15 flyovers and events a year to 86 flyovers and air events this past year. The T-6 aircraft are all privately owned and are presently flown by nine aviators legally certified for formation flying and flyovers. They are: Bruce Olson, Curt Brown, Karl
Knisley, Chuck Datko, John Bormes, Robin Crandall, Steve Bohlig, Jack Larson, Paul Ehlin. Of that number, Bruce Olson, Karl Knisley, Chuck Datko, and Curt Brown will be involved in the flyover of Stillwater, with Datko setting the course and taking the lead in the flyover.
Board member John Kraemer said, “It was President Reagan who in reciting Stephen Spender’s poem The Truly Great so appropriately stated, ‘They who in their lives fought for life left the vivid air signed with their honor.’ Further, thirty-five years ago on Memorial Day, 1985, President Reagan remarked, ‘Strengthen by their courage, heartened by their values, and born by their memory, let us stand for the ideals they stood and died for.’”
Hearkening the recent Air National Guard overflight of Minnesota, as well as the ongoing national overflights by the military’s crack Blue Angels and Thunderbirds demonstration flight teams, the Veterans Memorial Board notes that America is blessed with many exemplary fellow citizens to hold in esteem, but few more impactful than those in medical, public safety, and military professions. This flyover applauds our local brave women and men who have given their last full measure in support of our country’s freedoms and for democratic ideals around the world. For these reasons and more, on the morrow of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Victory in Europe Day, World War Two, the Stillwater Veterans Memorial Honors our Heroes…then, now, and forever.
2020 Bayport American Legion Memorial Day parade cancelled
The Bayport American Legion has formally announced the 2020 Bayport American Legion Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony will be postponed until Memorial Day 2021.
Due to construction work on Highway 95 in Bayport, parade and ceremony coordinator Jim Menard indicated this year the parade would have had a different look with the alternate parade route.
The alternate route due to road construction “was or would have been far greater than no parade and ceremony” said Menard who along with his volunteer staff has been coordinating the parade and ceremony since late 2003.
“We are looking forward to resuming the parade on the newly revamped highway 95 in downtown Bayport next year,” Menard said.
According to one longtime Bayport resident, the 2019 parade was the first time it has rained on the parade since the Memorial Day event started more than 90 years ago. While the pouring rain did dampen parade spectators and participant turnout, however it did not stop the tradition of honoring “all that gave some, and some that gave all” at Hazelwood Cemetery.
On behalf of the Bayport American Legion Post 491, Sons of the American Legion Squadron and
Auxiliary, Menard said he would like to thank the many sponsors and participants in the many previous year’s along with the City of Bayport and residents for their support.
Socially distanced cemetery services
Each year the Honor Guard and Auxiliary of VFW Post 323 visit local cemeteries on Memorial Day where a solemn service is conducted to honor the sacrifices made by those who served. With most formal programs being canceled due to COVID-19, the VFW is asking those who choose to participate to observe social distancing.
The schedule of services is subject to change.
St. Mathews Cemetery
Houlton, Wis. Cemetery
Stillwater Veterans Memorial
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