Lakes area military service organizations will honor those who died while serving in the U.S. military during Memorial Day observances Monday, May 25, though some ceremonies won’t be quite the same as in past years.
Most traditional services with larger gatherings were canceled or streamlined because of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting guidelines, but area military service organizations are planning different events to honor those who died in service.
The traditional Memorial Day parade and ceremonies in Brainerd are replaced by a livestreamed video via Facebook this year.
The short ceremony starts at 10 a.m. Monday, May 25.
The link can be found at BrainerdVFW.org. A Facebook account is not required to view the stream. Hit refresh on the browser if it doesn’t appear to start. The recorded video can be viewed anytime.
The Brainerd American Legion is also providing webpage and Facebook links. For those on Facebook, look for Brainerd Memorial Day Committee. The event link for the livestream is https://bit.ly/2LHNX8Z.
The annual Memorial Day service will be 10 a.m. Sunday, May 24, at the Outdoor Worship Center on Daggett Pine Road in Crosslake with gates opening at 9:15 a.m.
The outdoor worship area is in compliance with the current Minnesota Department of Health guidelines and practices for the service to comply with regulations.
The Rev. Kristin Oltmann and the Rev. Kurt Hagestuen will preside. Attendees are asked to stay in their vehicles during the entire service and practice social distancing.
This yearly service honors and remembers deceased military veterans who served the country. The service includes featured guest speaker Susan Edwards, post commander for the Billie Brown Post No. 627 in Nisswa. She served in the U.S. Air Force as a law enforcement K-9 handler and is currently serving as 6th District adjutant and chairwoman of the Department Law and Order Committee.
A graduate of the National American Legion College, she is a proponent for female veterans, an active Legion Rider, served on the Children and Youth Committee at the 2019 national Legion convention and serves as editor of the 6th District newsletter. She has recently been endorsed for department chaplain by her home post and the 6th District executive committee. Edwards and her husband Paul (current 6th District commander and Army and Air Force veteran) are both retired from Boeing Co. and have a son currently serving in the United States Army.
The service will also feature a contingent of the American Legion Color Guard from the Crosslake post firing an honorary salute to the dead, patriotic songs, taps and a flyover by the North Star Squadron. Recognition of veterans and military families will also be part of this very special day of remembrance.
The Pine River American Legion will host its usual Memorial Day services Monday, May 25, with events at the Pine River dam, Pine Ridge Cemetery and Swanburg Cemetery.
The services will start at 9:30 a.m. at the Pine River dam. Legion Commander Terry Steele will speak and there will be a gun salute.
A remembrance will then be at the Pine Ridge Cemetery in Pine River.
A commemorative service to honor those who have served and those who sacrificed all during military service will be at 11:30 a.m. at the Swanburg Cemetery with Pine River American Legion Post No. 613 providing military honors. Steele will speak, with devotions by the Rev. Tom Wright. Those who attend are asked to abide by the governor’s 6-foot social distancing mandate.
Regretfully, due to the governor’s recent extension of the directive that gatherings must be smaller than 10 people and the need to continue social distancing, the 2020 Memorial Day ceremony Monday, May 25, at Pinewood Cemetery in Crosslake is canceled, a news release said.
The Crosslake-Fifty Lakes American Legion Post will still place flags on the gravesites of all veterans buried at Pinewood Cemetery for family members who wish to visit and pay tribute to them.
The Legion post will have an abbreviated ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday, May 25, raising the flag to half-staff and playing taps to honor and remember the deceased military veterans who served our country.
The Backus American Legion will put flags on veterans’ graves at Evergreen Cemetery and will sponsor a 30-minute Memorial Day remembrance concert recording by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir titled “Remember and Give Thanks” on KPRM/KDKK Park Rapids Radio 97.5 FM.
The Nisswa American Legion will host an abbreviated, virtual Memorial Day service at 11 a.m. Monday, May 25.
The event will be livestreamed from the Legion with Commander Susan Edwards as speaker. People can watch the ceremony from their cars, or online at www.facebook.com/nisswaamericanlegion.
Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs sponsoring virtual Memorial Day program
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is sponsoring a virtual Memorial Day program in partnership with Twin Cities PBS-TPT.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic prohibits the live events traditionally planned at the three state veterans cemeteries located in Little Falls, Preston and Duluth.
“The COVID-19 pandemic requires a new approach to our traditional Memorial Day events,” Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Herke said in a news release. "This year we will mark this special day in a new and different way, but with the same goal: to honor and pay our respects to Minnesota Veterans who have passed.”
TPT reated a 30-minute Memorial Day program titled “Always Remember: A Minnesota Tribute to Veterans We’ve Lost,” that will be broadcast across the state on TPT’s Minnesota Channel at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 25, and on TPT2 at 8 a.m. May 31. The program can also be livestreamed online from the TPT website. The program will be rebroadcast on TPT several times throughout June and July and will also be available online after it premieres.
The program will include remarks from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Herke, personal stories from both Gold Star mothers and veterans about those we have lost and honor on Memorial Day, as well as music and a rifle salute traditionally included in a live event.