Weather Forecast


Monday service to honor our war heroes

Richard Martin

Anna Erickson

The tradition of remembrance for those who have died serving their country, Memorial Day, originated during the Civil War when more Americans lost their lives than all other wars combined.

On May 5, 1868 General John Logan declared, “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Services will be held at area communities Monday, May 27 to observe Memorial Day.

In Park Rapids, a Memorial Day service will start at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Park Rapids Area High School auditorium.

Sgt. Richard J. Martin Sr. is the main speaker for the service. The prelude will be performed by the High School band under the direction of Corey Leppanen.

This year’s Gold Star parents are Erland and Joyce Alto, Alfred and Erna Kable, and Robert and Christina Longfors. Gold Star parents lost a son or daughter in the military.

Sgt. Martin enlisted in the U.S. Army in August of 1969 and attended basic training at Fort Lewis, Wash. Martin went on to Fort Ord, Calif. For advanced training and he was prepared for his role in the Vietnam War.

While in Fort Ord, martin learned the Vietnam language, which became very valuable to his work. In 1970 he was assigned to the 184th Ordinance Battalion, delivering ammunition to the field troops and doing recon patrols.

Sgt. Martin was issued the Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Service Ribbon, United Campaign Ribbon and Army Accommodation medal.

After Vietnam he was sent to Ft. Bragg, N.C., where he served with the 82nd Airborne. His duties included training troops and learning to jump out of airplanes. Richard completed his active duty service in Bavaria, Germany, where he served with Headquarters Co. 1st Armored Division Support Command located in Hitler’s old airfield. He was assigned all of the Battalion’s vehicles and he reported directly to the General concerning the functions of each. He was also responsible for transporting the General to all of his duties.

Martin and many other Vietnam veterans still struggle to deal with their experiences and he has gathered with a band of brothers to work together on their recovery. His daily routine is to make sure all veterans receive what they have earned and are entitled. He has dedicated his life to helping the veteran.

He wants all returning vets as well as those who have been out for some time to be involved with veteran groups.

“You are all needed to keep out benefits going and to fill our shoes for veterans in years to come,” Martin said. “You are our future.”

He currently serves as Commander of the area Disabled American Veterans Chapter 38. He was instrumental in establishing an American Legion Riders chapter in the community. He lives in the area with wife, Terry.

The Park Rapids service will also include a call to order by Commander Mike Swanson, an invocation by Chaplain Fred Brown and an armed forces salute by the band. Special music will include a medley of patriotic songs by a children’s choir under the direction of Sarah Kaufenberg and “Tribute to Vietnam Vets” by Faith Kern.

Following the service, there will be a parade to Red Bridge Park for a floral tribute at Fish Hook River. From there, the service will continue at the All-Veterans Memorial Park on U.S. Highway 71 south, where the Ladies Auxiliary and Blue Star Mothers will present wreaths and a memorial prayer will be led by Chaplain Brown.

The program concludes with a flag folding ceremony, flag disposal and Taps.

The Park Rapids American Legion Otto Hendrickson Post 212 and Park Rapids Legion Auxiliary sponsor the memorial service.

The Akeley Harold Harris VFW Post Color Guard will conduct Memorial Day services at 9 a.m. at the Akeley Cemetery, 9:30 a.m. at the White Oak Cemetery, 10 a.m. at Lemon Cemetery and 10:30 a.m. in Nevis.

Menahga VFW Post 6206 will present a Memorial Day Service at 10 a.m. at the Menahga School gymnasium. The program includes a presentation of flags by the Menahga VFW Post 6206 Color Guard.

The Anderson-Black Legion and Auxiliary and the Laporte-Benedict VFW will present a Memorial Day program at 10 a.m. at the Laporte School.

A short ceremony will be held at the Evergreen Cemetery at Kabekona at 9 a.m. and at St. Theodore’s Catholic Cemetery on the north side of Highway 200 will be held at 9:30 a.m.

Following the main program at the school, a short service will take place at the public landing on Garfield Lake in Laporte.

Services will conclude at the Lakeport Cemetery with Taps.

All are welcome.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561