| 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
Operation Agriculture: Minnesota Guard assists Afghan farmers
Posted: 2013-05-15 08:08 AM
Agricultural Development Teams deploy farming experts to help rebuild Afghanistan's war torn food system.
When most National Guard units prepare to deploy to Afghanistan, they focus on tactical training--land navigation, weapons skills, working with interpreters, counter-IED techniques, basic first aid.
But Colonel Eric Ahlness, commander of the Minnesota National Guard's Zabul Agribusiness Development Team, or ADT, brought his unit to an Amish farm.
Police Week observance: Service members who exemplify our state's optimal force structure
Posted: 2013-05-15 06:08 AM
Today is a day to recognize the sacrifice and service of our nation's civilian police force. Since 1962, when President John F. Kennedy signed the proclamation declaring May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day, the week surrounding the 15th has become better known as "police week."
The Minnesota National Guard is honored to have several members on its force that serve, or have served as both military police and civilian police officers. Their binary roles serve as a prime example of how the Guard strives to maintain the right mix of people and equip units with an optimal force structure.
Operation Synergy empowers Service members toward personal growth
Posted: 2013-05-10 12:00 AM
For Soldiers and Airmen in the Minnesota National Guard, balancing military life with civilian life can bring on its own set of challenges and experiences. Operation Synergy aims to help Service members from all branches to empower themselves to manifest their own reality, instead of letting complacency dictate their life.
With training demands, drill weekends, deployments and daily mission requirements, it's important for Service members to be proactive, rather than reactive. By bringing in speakers from various companies, organizations and backgrounds, Operation Synergy unites Service members through education and growth.