Blooming Prairie loves its veterans
Blooming Prairie truly loves its veterans, and even its neighbors who may be veterans.
More than 300 persons attended a special flag raising ceremony on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11 and stayed for lunch at the Blooming Prairie Servicemen's Club.
Harlan Buck, of Hayfield, raised the American flag. He is a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 878 of Blooming Prairie and a member of the Hayfield American Legion Post 330.
Buck said he was signed up for the Legion the day after he arrived home from duty. He served as state department Legion commander in 1978-79.
Sunday, Veterans Day, was also the maiden voyage of the Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial. The Memorial is not yet completed but two walls are completed with pavers declaring 372 names. Walls showing all branches of the Military are also installed.
Tom Walters and Fred Voukon greeted visitors as they walked through the Memorial and searched for their loved ones and friends etched on wall pavers.
An arch created by Metal Services welcomes people visiting the Memorial. A 5-foot by 5-foot bald eagle flies overhead.
Tom Peterson, chairman of the BP Veterans Memorial Committee, greeted people visiting the Memorial and also thanked those instrumental in making it a reality. He said an open house will be held next summer with a dedication planned for Nov. 11, 2019.
Following the flag raising featuring the Blooming Prairie Honor Guard, visitors to the Veterans Day activities had a chance to view the Memorial and also retire to the Servicemen's Club for lunch. An estimated 300 guests were served.
Joyce Johns, president of VFW Post 878's Auxiliary, then moderated a program to honor 13 veterans with Quilts of Valor.
Prior to giving out the Quilts of Valor, Johns presented two monumental bald eagle statues to VFW Post 878 Commander Joe Wacek and to American Legion Post 52 Commander Karl Luiken. The eagles were given by Dodson Iron Castings of Mankato.
Johns acknowledged the presence of Merle McNutt, local serviceman, who turns 100 on Wednesday, Nov. 14. McNutt, who served in the U.S. Navy, was accompanied by his daughters Melanie and Marsy and other family members.
The 13 Quilts of Valor brings the total given by Blooming Prairie service organizations to 148.
Chris Butler of Blooming Prairie was instrumental in getting the Quilts of Valor program going in Blooming Prairie.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation was started with a Blue Star mother, Catherine Roberts of Seaford, Delaware in 2003. The first quilt the foundation made was for a young soldier from Minnesota who had lost a leg in Iraq in 2003.
Each recipient was introduced by Johns and invited to bring their families up front.
Johns congratulated each recipient and told who pieced the quilt and who quilted it.
Johns recited the Quilts of Valor theme: "May this quilt keep you safe from harm. May it be your good luck charm. What you hold in your arms. . . is a quilters' embrace."
This Veterans Day, Johns said, marked the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I.
She thanked those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. Johns introduced the service organization leaders: Joe Wacek, VFW Post 878 commander; Karl Luiken, American Legion Post 52 commander; Joe Motl, Sons of the American Legion commander; Suzie Thorson, American Legion Auxiliary president and Joyce Johns, VFW Auxiliary president.
Auxiliary members Barb Blome and Vikki Wacek presented an explanation of the POW-MIA table.