Memorial Day services set in area communities

A listing of Memorial Day services for those interested in attending.

Capt. Gail Smith

The Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 31, in Brainerd will be an abbreviated program again this year.

The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the Laurel Street bridge with a wreath thrown in the river to honor those lost at sea, with a prayer by the Rev. Todd Wooden, a rifle salute and playing of taps. The program continues to the All Veterans Memorial at Fourth and Laurel streets with the main ceremony beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Again there will be a prayer by Wooden, rifle salute and playing of taps. Bill Satre is the master of ceremonies for this event. The public is welcome and mask wearing and social distancing will be per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The ceremony will be viewable via Facebook Live at . The ceremony will also be broadcast on KBLB, 93.3 FM and WWWI, 95.9 FM radio stations at 10:30 a.m. A recording of the event will be posted to the Brainerd Memorial Day Facebook page. Details can be found at .

The Brainerd American Legion, 708 Front St., Brainerd, will host a Memorial Day picnic from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, May 31.

Hot dogs and hamburgers will be served. Dine-in or order to go. The picnic is free for veterans and their families. Freewill donations are accepted.



Memorial Day ceremonies will be Monday, May 31, in area communities, with one service planned Sunday, May 30, at Crosslake Lutheran Church.

Crosslake Lutheran Church will host a more traditional worship service at 8:30 a.m. Sunday in the sanctuary across from the campground. The 10 a.m. outdoor worship will feature a larger community-wide observance at 14019 Daggett Pine Road across from the Crosslake Community Center baseball field.

Both services are open to the public.

The outdoor service will feature John Carlson singing the national anthem, a contingent of the Crosslake-Fifty Lakes American Legion Color Guard firing an honorary salute to the dead and an aerial flyover by the North Star Squadron, a group of four fixed-wing aircraft flown by experienced pilots who participate in air shows throughout the Midwest. Steve Knight, who has been an adviser to the Civil Air Patrol and now lives in Mission Hill, South Dakota, leads the squadron.

Veterans from World War II to the present will be honored. Those attending may stay in their cars and listen via radio or be seated on provided chairs. Visitors are also invited to bring their own chairs and blankets.

Capt. Gail Smith, Army Situational Awareness Room-Army Nurse Corps, will speak on the 30th anniversary of Desert Storm. Smith was a member of the 311th Evacuation Hospital, which deployed to the Middle East during Desert Storm and served for four months in the United Arab Emirates. She served as the chief training officer for the medical unit and for the UAE joint medical team.

Capt. Gail Smith


During her 14 years as a reservist with the Army Nurse Corps she also served at Brooke Army and Walter Reed medical centers in the intensive care unit. She was awarded an Army Commendation medal for her service in the Gulf War and a special award from the UAE Royal Guard for her work in training.

She is a member of Crosslake-Fifty Lakes American Legion Post No. 500. In her civilian life, she has enjoyed a 47-year career in the emergency room and ICU, currently working at the Minneapolis Heart Institute in Baxter.

Smith also serves as the parish nurse at Crosslake Lutheran Church and leads activities for the Health Ministry Team. She and her husband Larry (also a veteran) live in Crosslake.

The Crosslake Memorial Day ceremony, led by the Crosslake-Fifty Lakes American Legion Post No. 500, will be at 10 a.m. Monday at the Crosslake Pinewood Cemetery on County Highway 36. The Crosslake Fire Department will participate with its new 78-foot ladder truck displaying a large American flag.

Melony Butler, founder and executive director of Eagles Healing Nest in Sauk Centre, will be the guest speaker. Eagles Healing Nest is a residence for military veterans with invisible mental scars, mostly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, to heal and return as productive members of society.

This annual ceremony is to honor and remember U.S. military veterans who sacrificed their lives defending the country. More than 190 local veterans are buried at Pinewood Cemetery. They are identified with individual American flags at their gravesite and will be recognized individually during the ceremony.

During the raising of the flag, John Carlson will sing the national anthem. The Rev. Kurt Hagestuen, associate pastor at Crosslake Lutheran Church, will deliver the invocation and benediction. The ceremony will conclude with the Post 500 Color Guard providing military honors with the traditional rifle salute and the playing of taps.

Lawn chairs and umbrellas are recommended if there is the possibility of inclement weather.



The Rev. John Rister, of the Backus Church of the Nazarene, will deliver the Memorial Day address at Backus and Ponto Lake cemeteries conducted by the Backus American Legion, Auxiliary and Sons of the Legion.

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Pastor John Rister

The Backus service will begin at 10 a.m. Monday at Evergreen Cemetery, and the Ponto Lake service will follow at approximately 11 a.m.

The Backus Legion tribute to deceased veterans will include music by the Nazarene Church Praise Team, Rister's address, a tolling of the bell for community members deceased in the past year, a color guard rifle salute and the playing of taps.

In the event of bad weather, services will be moved to the Backus Legion clubrooms and Ponto Lake Town Hall.


Nisswa area residents will come together in a commemoration ceremony to honor soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the country’s liberty at noon Monday at the Nisswa American Legion.

The Nisswa American Legion Color Guard will render military honors. Brad Wallace, music director at Grace United Methodist Church in Pequot Lakes, will provide music. The Nisswa Elementary School essay winner will read the winning essay.

Guest speaker will be Bob Nelson, former veterans service officer from Crow Wing County.

While the main purpose of the ceremony is to honor those who have died, those who have served and those who continue to fight for the freedom of our nation will also be honored.

Jim Starkey of Post No. 627 will be the master of ceremonies.

Pine River

The Pine River American Legion's annual Memorial Day ceremony will start at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the dam in Pine River where Post Commander Terry Steele will speak. A wreath will be laid in the water in honor of soldiers lost at sea and a 21-gun salute and taps will be performed.

The ceremony will move to Pine Ridge Cemetery where a wreath will be laid at the base of the memorial accompanied by taps and a 21-gun salute, and a short speech by Steele.

A commemorative service to honor those who have served and those who sacrificed all during military service will be at 11 a.m. at Swanburg Cemetery in Pine River. Pine River American Legion Post No. 613 will provide military honors with another speech by Steele.

Pequot Lakes

The Pequot Lakes American Legion Post No. 49 and Jenkins Veterans of Foreign Wars Northern Post No. 3839 will host an indoor memorial service at 10 a.m. Monday in the Pequot Lakes High School auditorium.

The Pequot Lakes High School band will lead the national anthem. Guest speaker will be state Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point. Soloist Casey Derksen will sing various patriotic songs, including "God Bless America" at the event's conclusion with pianist Renee Anderson.

American Legion Auxiliary President Nina Hedstrom will read a list of the deceased veterans of the past year.


A Memorial Day service will be 10:30 a.m. Monday at Lakewood Cemetery, 21235 Wood Ave., Ironton.

The Myrin-James American Legion Post No. 443 will present a Memorial Day service including roll call of deceased veterans and auxiliary members and a short message.

Following the service, all are invited to the Ironton American Legion for a free burger bar 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (dine-in only).

In case of inclement weather, the service will be moved to the Mayberry Auditorium in the Crosby-Ironton High School.

Online presentation on Memorial Day: A Day of Mourning for Veterans

As part of May is Mental Health Month, National Alliance on Mental Illness-Minnesota will have a free online workshop 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday, May 26, called Memorial Day: A Day of Mourning for Veterans. Learn about the grief and loss that veterans feel on Memorial Day as well as what steps people can take to support veterans who are experiencing PTSD, anxiety and depression. The presenter will be Julia Pawlenty, who works in the VA’s Suicide Prevention Program and facilitates the VA’s Grief/Loss group.

To register for this presentation, click on “Classes” at .

For more information, call NAMI Minnesota at 651-645-2948.

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Pastor John Rister

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