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Minnesota National Guard
Stormy clouds, weeping skies move Memorial Day services indoors

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 10:23 am by Sue Austreng | by Sue Austreng
Staff Writer

With storm clouds rumbling and gray skies weeping, Anoka honored its veterans and patriots with an indoor Memorial Day service Monday morning

National Guardsmen, commanders, soldiers and patriots of all sorts heeded a quick-duty call to set up some 300 chairs inside Anoka’s American Legion Post 102 for the services

The North Suburban Concert Band tuned its brass and woodwinds and then, folks sporting casual red, white and blue ensembles assembled with veterans and active duty troops proudly displaying service caps and medals

Some of the troops were in uniform, some were wrinkled and gray but all were proud and honored as they received applause and thanksgiving for their duty to God and country

Those marking Memorial Day inside the Legion pledged allegiance, sang the National Anthem and listened as Wilson Elementary School fifth-graders Haley McCauley, Hailey Liesenfeld, Sophie Rodman and Sydney Bertrand recited “The Gettysburg Address,” “In Flanders Field” and “Answer to In Flanders Field”

Then, as the North Suburban Concert Band played battle hymns for each military branch, veterans and active duty servicemen and women stood at attention and received due honor and recognition for their service

Guest speaker Col Wayne Hayes, United States Property and Fiscal Officer for the Minnesota Army National Guard, stood at the podium then and urged assembled patriots to extend the honor beyond Memorial Day

“The key component of our nation’s greatness is our ability to honor,” Hayes said “Today is our day to say ‘thank you’ to those who have paid so dearly and to whom we owe so much”

“Today we must vow to extend this honor beyond Memorial Day,” he said

That can be accomplished, Hayes said, by teaching young people what it means to be an American, by volunteering to help veterans, by assisting Gold Star families who have lost a loved one in war, by visiting injured soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines

“But this goes beyond the uniform,” Hayes said “We can extend this honor by helping out in the community, making sure the veterans’ positive work goes on to honor our country”

“Tell their stories Cherish their memories,” Hayes said, and then pled with all those in attendance to observe the National Moment of Remembrance, designated for 3 pm on Memorial Day

“You could be at the Veterans Memorial You could be here in the Legion You could be home with your family It doesn’t matter where you are It matters that you felt it,” Hayes said

After Hayes left the stage inside the Legion, Memorial Wreaths were placed around an empty chair draped with the black POW/MIA cover

The 21-gun salute was sounded, taps were played and the crowd lifted voices as they sang, “God Bless America”

And then, as the service ended, skies brightened and the sun shone on tear-stained ground below
Sue Austreng is at sueaustreng@ecm-inccom

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