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Letter: My Veterans Day in Park Rapids

Never really paid much attention to Veterans Day before but some folks at the American Legion Club advised me to go to the Century School program Veterans Day afternoon. This, following a veterans coffee and rolls get together at the American Legion Club in the morning. Both events were far more rewarding than anticipated.

First, I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with a Korean Army veteran who was drafted and sent to Korea with a minimum of training, provided grossly inadequate gear for the cold Korean winter, put into immediate front line action in a strange and dangerous combat zone.

The severe cold resulted in frostbite to his feet which he still suffers the after effects some 60 years later. We were joined by an Air Force vet like myself and mentioned he was trained as a Russian Linguist as I was.

Small world but 60 years later it was all we could do was say hi and good bye in Russian This is typical of the stories one hears when coming over to the Legion Club for daily Happy Hour or the many fundraiser dinners and special events you don’t need to be a member to come on in and enjoy.

Didn’t know what to expect at Middle School. After all, these were just 5th through 8th grade kids trying to portray the sacrifices and valor of those who have served, many who didn’t return, and others whose wounds remain a constant memory.

The always impressive Legion Color Guard posted the colors to set the tone. The kids took it from there leading the Pledge of Allegiance, their band playing the Star Spangled Banner, then presenting skits honoring current soldiers, those who gave their lives, living veterans, and the Prisoners of War and those still missing in action.

The Middle School singers gave a beautiful rendition of On Veterans Day followed by the Armed Services March in which the kids marched wearing uniforms of the various branches while their respective service songs played in the background.

By this time, I was already thoroughly impressed with the kids’ performance, the teachers and all those who assisted in putting the program together. However, something special was yet to come. The simple closing act of folding the flag and playing taps brought emotional responses from myself and those around me, a few tears being a final tribute to a job well done in honoring those who serve and have served.

Lee Purrier

Park Rapids