Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who died in service to their country.

The holiday was officially proclaimed in 1868 to honor Union and Confederate soldiers and was expanded after World War I to honor those who died in all wars.

Today, Memorial Day honors over 1 million men and women who have died in military service since the Civil War.

Park Rapids, Menahga and Laporte have scheduled Memorial Day programs.

Park Rapids

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The Park Rapids American Legion family conducts an in-person Memorial Day commemoration, beginning with a 9:10 a.m. Monday, May 31 wreath-laying ceremony on the County 15 bridge. The event will include a prayer, gun salute and “Taps.”

The entourage will then march to the All Veterans Memorial for a 9:30 a.m. ceremony.

Monday’s Memorial Day program will recognize Gold Star Parents and veterans who passed away. Legion Chaplain Justin Fenger will conduct the invocation and benediction. Legion Commander Mike Smith will welcome all.

Guest speaker is Major Mandy Iverson, who was born and raised in Bemidji. She attended the University of North Dakota and pursued a Bachelor of Science in both nursing and biology with a pre-health emphasis.

Iverson felt the call to serve her country and joined the North Dakota Army National Guard in 2003 as a combat medic. In 2005, she accepted her commission as a 2nd Lieutenant into the Army Corps of Engineers. She has deployed for numerous state and local emergency efforts, including recovery efforts for Dru Sjodin and floods.

Iverson is currently serving on federal FEMA orders for COVID-19 relief efforts.

She was deployed to Afghanistan in 2017, where she acted as a liaison officer and then battalion operations officer.

Iverson has participated in the military funeral honors program since 2007, completing hundreds of final honors and transfers for veterans and service members, including soldiers in Afghanistan as part of the dignified transfer team.

Iverson is a traditional Guardsman in that she has a civilian career as a school nurse.

Iverson is an advocate for animal integration into mental health programming. She volunteers at numerous animal rescue organizations and Service Dogs for America.

She puts this passion for mental wellness into practice as the current title holder of Mrs. Grand Forks International. She is pursuing the title of Mrs. North Dakota International. Her platform is Paws for Mental Health and promotes community mental wellness through animal integration.

Iverson makes her home in Grand Forks with her husband, Doug.

This program concludes with music by the Park Rapids Area High School band, a wreath presentation, prayer, flag-folding and flag-disposal ceremonies, gun salute and “Taps.”

A luncheon at the Legion will follow.

Menahga

Menahga’s Memorial Day service begins at 10 a.m. Monday, May 31 at the city cemetery.

The public is invited to bring a lawn chair and help honor veterans as well as local emergency heroes, like first responders, law enforcement and firefighters.

There will be a recognition of local veterans who have passed away over the past year.

Any questions can be directed to Jean Weyer at 218-252-6178 or jeanweyer@outlook.com.

Laporte

The Laporte-Benedict American Legion and Auxiliary Post 462 will host Memorial Day events on May 31.

An outdoor Honor Guard assembly will be from 9 to 11 a.m. at the veterans memorial in downtown Laporte. The schedule includes a brief ceremony, with guest speakers Jim Smith from the Legion and Paula Gutheridge from the Auxiliary, songs and a bell-ringing ceremony for the fallen.