Menahga honors its military tradition

This year’s program revered military personnel serving from 2000 until present day.

Major Julia Harrison Livingston accepts a carnation for her 28 years and counting of military service. Menahga VFW Commander Larry Murphy and organizer Jean Weyer recognized about 30 military personnel with ties to Menahga.

The Menahga High School gym was swathed in red, white and blue on Wednesday.

Each year, Menahga Elementary School students participate in the Veterans Day program as flag bearers.

Elementary students, carrying American flags, joined the Menahga VFW Post 6206 Color Guard and Star of the North U.S. Marine Corps League as they presented the nation’s colors for the annual Veterans Day program.

Little Miss Menahga Jayda Anderson led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.


Under the encouraging gaze of Miss Menahga Isabelle Meyer, Little Miss Menahga Jayda Anderson leads the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Notable service

This year’s program revered military personnel serving from 2000 until present day.

The community’s abiding tradition of military service was evident as mistress of ceremonies and longtime Veterans Day organizer Jean Weyer read aloud the achievements of 30 veterans, including three sets of siblings. Most are graduates of Menahga High School (MHS). Many have been deployed around the world.

Among the notable service members were Major Julia Harrison Livingston, Chief Warrant Officer Chad Braunschweig and Sergeant Levi Tormanen.

Livingston, a 1992 MHS graduate, has been serving in the U.S. Army Reserves for 28 years. She was part of humanitarian missions in Panama and El Salvador. She’s an engineer.

A 2005 MHS graduate, Braunschweig began his service with the U.S. Air Force. He has been deployed to Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Qatar and Pakistan. Since 2014, he has been flying Apache helicopters for the Army. His last deployment was to Afghanistan in 2019.


Chief Warrant Officer Chad Braunschweig has served all over the world, including Afghanistan in 2019.

Levi Tormanen graduated from MHS in 2007. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2017, excelling in special operations-reconnaissance, amphibious and parachutist training, and advanced sniper training. In 2021, he transferred to the Army’s Green Beret program.

RELATED: Watch a video of Menahga's 2021 Veterans Day program

Diamond Jubilee

The Menahga VFW Post celebrated a landmark anniversary – 75 years. Menahga Mayor Liz Olson presented a Diamond Jubilee Award to Menahga VFW Commander Larry Murphy.


Menahga Mayor Liz Olson presents a Diamond Jubilee Award to Murphy. Guy L. McDermeit VFW Post 6206 was established 75 years ago.

Menahga VFW members are “a pillar of support for Menahga,” wrote Hal Roesch II in a congratulatory letter. He’s the VFW Commander-in-chief of the national VFW headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“Year after year, you have provided superb public service to others. You provided an invaluable network of service to those who have borne the battle as well as their families, and you advanced the health and wellbeing of those who bear the burden of defending our nation and our way of life,” Roesch wrote.

Weyer explained that the Menahga VFW Post is named after Guy L. McDermeit, who grew up in the Menahga area and served during WWII. On Jan. 9, 1943, he was killed in action in New Guinea. McDermeit’s niece attended Wednesday’s ceremony.

Surprise recognition

Two “seasoned veterans,” as Weyer put it, were venerated during the program.

Clarence Quasnick, a longtime VFW member, was recognized at Wednesday's ceremony. He is escorted by Menahga High School senior Matthew Parvi, who is wearing a WWII-era infantry combat uniform.

Clarence Quasnick, 93, was escorted to the stage and given a round of applause. In her introduction, Weyer said that Clarence “just missed serving in World War II, but at the age of 18 joined the U.S. Army, serving from 1947 to 1951 in Okinawa, Japan and then in Korea. After returning home to Sebeka, he joined the Sebeka American Legion and the Menahga VFW. Through both these organizations, Clarence has actively served as a Color Guard member for 63 years.”

Ron Masanz, a founding member of the Star of the North U.S. Marine Corps League, was also treated to special recognition on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Ron Masanz, 94, was also treated to a round of appreciation. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1951 to 1953. He is a founding member of the Star of the North U.S. Marine Corps League, which annually participates in the Menahga Veterans Day program. Masanz also starred in a Scheels’ commercial honoring vets.

Patriotic essays, music

One hundred twenty-four Menahga sixth through eighth graders entered the VFW Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest. The 2020 theme was “How can I be a good American?”

Murphy recognized the top seven essayists with cash awards. Claire Haataja took first place and shared her essay with the audience.

Claire Haataja penned the first-place essay on "How to be a good American."

Under the direction of Beth Hahn, the Menahga High School band performed “The Road Unknown.” It was dedicated to the 13 soldiers who died in Afghanistan during the U.S. withdrawal.

The fifth grade choir sang “America, America,” lead by Kryston Wiseley.

The Menahga High School choir sang “God Bless America,” with choir director April Hodge.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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