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Minnesota National Guard
Our view: Welcome home your local vets on March 19

What started Dec 7 as our call for another grassroots “welcome home” celebration for a local Army Reserve unit today officially becomes a celebration for (and with) that unit and all area service members recently back from active duty!

And you are invited!! (Plus, some help and donations are needed More on that toward the end) For now, though, please plan to attend this free event the morning of March 19 at the St Cloud Civic Center

Doors to the Terry Haws Center will open at 9 am, where there will be several displays about veterans services along with activities for children

At 10 am, the US Army Reserve’s 367th Engineer Battalion — the inspiration for the celebration — will present Warrior Citizen awards to about 75-100 of its members As you probably recall, more than 300 members of the 367th, which is stationed in St Cloud, returned in early December from a year in Iraq

As soon as those awards are complete, St Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis will lead the crowd in honoring all area veterans who have recently returned from active duty Afterward, residents can thank these heroes in person We expect the event to wrap up about 1 pm

How to help

The easiest way to help is to attend the ceremony and thank veterans and their families in person In addition, here are some other ways:

Donate to provide light refreshments Similar to the annual Veterans Day Parade and Social, the goal is to provide cookies, coffee or juice We welcome donations from vendors or monetary gifts to help purchase them

Welcome Home posters — For a similar event last spring, several area school districts had classes create Welcome Home posters More than 50 of those adorned the Civic Center walls and added a heartfelt touch to the event Schools, we welcome such efforts again (Deliver them to the Times during weekday business hours before March 14 The address is 3000 Seventh St N, St Cloud)

Who’s helping?

Along with the 367th, major sponsors include the St Cloud Times, the city of St Cloud, the St Cloud VA Medical Center, 4-H Youth Development/Operation Military Kids and the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon/Family Assistance Center

Several groups have expressed interest in volunteering for the event, including the Telephone Pioneers, ING Direct and the Central Minnesota Boy Scouts of America As duties arise, we will be in touch with these groups and let you know if more help is needed

For now, though, the most important action is to plan to attend this celebration the morning of March 19 at the St Cloud Civic Center

For more information or to help, contact the St Cloud Times Editorial Board at 255-8762, letters@stcloudtimescom or care of St Cloud Times, PO Box 768, St Cloud MN 56302
Times Editorial Board • February 7, 2011

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