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Brainerd lakes area honors those who sacrificed all

Brainerd’s Memorial Day ceremony Monday, May 30, was moved to the National Guard Armory as storms moved through the area.

Brainerd Memorial Day activities
Brainerd Color Guard members Marty Judd, left, John Pietruszewski and Richard Schmidt present the colors Monday, May 30, 2022, before the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Brainerd National Guard Armory.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Incoming dark, ominous clouds and threats of severe weather didn't deter a Brainerd lakes area tradition from honoring its veterans.

In a quick fashion Monday, May 30, Brainerd’s Memorial Day observance moved from an outdoor parade and ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery to the National Guard Armory as storms moved through the area.

Put together by the Brainerd Area Memorial Day Committee, the Brainerd Memorial Day observance was standing room only at 11 a.m. with over 250 people in attendance to remember those who have paid the ultimate price for freedom.

Memorial Day in Brainerd
The Memorial Day Ceremony was moved from Evergreen Cemetery to the Brainerd National Guard Armory because of inclement weather Monday, May 30, 2022.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Todd Laflamme and Renee Laflamme, were at the event to watch Renee’s daughter play in the Brainerd High School Marching Band and said they enjoy seeing a strong sense of patriotism in the Brainerd lakes community.

“Both of us have veterans in our family, (our) father's and my sister were in,” Renee Laflamme said. “Being limited with COVID, it's nice to get out and be able to be with people again and celebrate these things.”

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After the band played the national anthem, representatives from local auxiliaries placed wreaths in a show of remembrance for the sacrifices veterans made for their country.

Brainerd Mayor Dave Badeaux said the city and its surrounding area have a long-standing tradition of service and he believes it is important for the community to show its respect and to show support for the men and women who served.

“This has just been a fantastic event and a little bit of rain can't slow it down, but it's just good to remember and show our gratitude,” Badeaux said.

Memorial Day in Brainerd
Betty Peck lays a wreath during the Memorial Day Ceremony for the Military Order of the Purple Heart Monday, May 30, 2022, at the Brainerd National Guard Armory.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Michael Lowe, a disabled veteran who grew up in Brainerd and left to serve four years in the Air Force during Vietnam, said he was coming out no matter the weather.

“I've always been proud of the military and those that served, and especially for those that gave their lives,” Lowe said. “They need to be remembered in every way … I appreciate the people that are coming out today, in spite of the storm that we had. It means a lot to me.”

Minnesota National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 5 Kevin Jensen was the guest speaker at the event and commended those in the crowd who looked to instill values and remember those who came before them.

Memorial Day in Brainerd
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Kevin Jensen speaks Monday, May 30, 2022, at the Memorial Day Ceremony in the Brainerd National Guard Armory.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

“Today's is a day of remembrance of the people that pay the ultimate price so that we don't forget why we have freedom and liberty and everything in between,” Jensen said. “One of the things that I noticed today is there were a lot of children in the building. That's very important that moms and dads send the right message to their kids so they don't forget why we have the freedoms and liberties we do.”

Unseen wounds of war are the second battlefront service members fight after leaving war. And those wounds continue to wreak havoc on the veteran community, said Jeff McArthur, a 23-year veteran who retired out of the 1-194th at the Armory in Brainerd.

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Memorial Day in Brainerd
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Kevin Jensen, left, and Staff Sgt. Wayne Erickson hold a wreath on the Laurel Street Bridge Monday, May 30, 2022, before tossing it into the Mississippi River to honor the veterans lost at sea. The event was the first of three as the Brainerd lakes area commemorated Memorial Day.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

“It's just, it's very meaningful,” McArthur said. “I've lost a lot of friends in the service, some due to suicide and some due to due to wartime stuff. Just it's such a deep meaning and so respectful to see everyone who came out to pay respects to the families that are present.“

Those troops who fight for the American way of life do so with complete disregard for their own safety and are coming home with unseen wounds of war, McArthur said.

In support of her dad and three brothers who served, Sue Kern said leaving war doesn't fix everything and remembering their sacrifices as Americans enjoy their freedoms, is the least people can do for veterans.

“Some gave their lives, others gave body parts and have emotional problems,” Kern said. “My brother that was in Vietnam, he just passed away this last summer, he had things he had to deal with — things that he saw, that he remembered — and you know, they gave up themselves so that we can have freedoms. That's why I come.”

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TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email tim.speier@brainerddispatch.com .

Related Topics: MEMORIAL DAY
Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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