| Ceremony Sunday to celebrate Veterans Day
Military service runs in Jarvas Polk's family.
The first lieutenant in the Minnesota National Guard enlisted in 2005, in part because of the number of his family members who have been in the armed services over the years including grandparents, aunts and uncles.
"Serving affects people you might not even realize," said Polk, the featured speaker Sunday at the the Winona Veterans Day Ceremony. "They made me want to contribute more than I was to the world. I wanted to be part of a bigger picture."
Polk returned in May from his first deployment to Afghanistan, where he helped train Afghan police and soldiers. "It was a really gratifying experience," he said. "It made you feel like you were really contributing."
Sunday's ceremony includes a 24-hour vigil starting at midnight, the 11 a.m. ceremony, displays and a showing of the movie "Memorial Day" at the Winona Area Veterans Center.
Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day, named after the 1918 cease-fire that signaled the end of World War I. The armistice was signed at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, which is where the phrase "the eleventh hour" came from.
A year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as Armistice Day. The holiday's name and date would change over the years until 1975, when President Gerald Ford signed into law the current rules on the holiday's observation.
For many, this year's Veterans Day ceremony is a special one. This will be the first Veterans Day since the winding down of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Polk said, including the return of the Red Bulls Minnesota Guard unit from Kuwait.
"It's really a time for us to thank fellow members of the military for their service and remember those no longer with us," he said. "We also need to take a second to realize we have people still deployed."
Winona Daily News
Gold Star Fathers Share Story of Love, Service and Sacrifice
Posted: 2015-03-25 08:45 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - "A Gold Star family member is a person who has lost a loved one who was serving our nation in the armed forces regardless of the circumstances of the death," said Survivor Outreach Services provider Amy Garber.
Bill Smith, father of Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith, and Richard Cauley, father of Spc. George Cauley, two Gold Star dads, recently spoke about their sons and what it means to be a Gold Star father.
"Everyone's greatest fear is the thought they'll say something awkward [to a Gold Star family member]. We want to talk about our loved ones. The greatest sadness would be that no one would remember," said Bill Smith.
334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Celebrates Women's History
Posted: 2015-03-22 01:39 PM
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Soldiers of Headquarters, Headquarters Company of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion took time away from training to celebrate Women's History Month with a look at the history of women in the Minnesota National Guard from someone who lived it.
Invited to speak at the event was Geraldine Longfellow. In 2008, Longfellow retired from the Minnesota Army National Guard at the rank of lieutenant colonel. She has since been brevetted to the rank of colonel.
Camp Ripley Guardsman Recognized as "Big Brother of the Year"
Posted: 2015-03-18 03:40 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - For many Service members of the Minnesota National Guard, dedication to the community is as high of a priority as any other mission.
"We feel it is our duty, in our own communities, to ensure that our friends and neighbors are taken care of," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ryan Ross.
Ross, who has been an active member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota for over three years, as well as a member of the Minnesota National Guard, was recently recognized by the agency as "Big Brother of the Year" for the State of Minnesota.
Young Soldiers, Big Plans
Posted: 2015-03-17 01:26 PM
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - Soldiers join the National Guard for many different reasons. Some are seeking the adventure and experience, some are looking for career opportunities and school benefits, and some soldiers simply want to serve their country.
At some point in a soldier's enlistment, he or she will be asked, are you going to re-enlist? Enlistment contracts for the National Guard often are an eight-year obligation with four or six years of active drilling service. Some soldiers leave the Army, and others decide to take the opportunities they've been offered and make a career.
Sgt. Brittany Grams, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 34th Combat Aviation Brigade medical noncommissioned officer, and Spc. Freddie Williams IV, HHC 34th CAB human resource specialist, are making careers, and the transition from enlisted soldier to officer.