WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     Special — The tradition of celebrating the remembrance of our war dead is strongly held across our great country. Local veterans organizations have always held in high regard the importance of this national holiday. Monday thousands of  veteran’s organizations  took time to remember our fallen war comrades in small towns and cities across the country.

    Monday morning the Walnut Grove American Legion Post and Auxiliary #267 held their Memorial Day ceremony at the WWG Elementary School at 9:30 a.m.

    Prior to the Memorial Service the WWG elementary band played two patriotic selections. Then the post and auxiliary presented the colors followed by the elementary band playing the National Anthem. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by everyone present.         The elementary band performed American Spirit March  under the direction of Thomas Vondracek.

    Elementary Principal Paul Olson then introduced the speaker, Mr. Steve Kjorness.

    Kjorness, former Superintendent of Westbrook Walnut Grove Schools and a Navy veteran talked about Duty, Honor, and Country.

    Following the service the legion and VFW went to the Westbrook Cemetery for a brief ceremony. A wreath was laid at the Veterans Memorial, followed by the rifle squad firing a salute and the playing of Taps.


    Kjorness a native of Minneota, talked about his dad Everette Dukee Kjorness. He remembers very little of his father as he was only four years old when his father was killed in action at December 7,  1941 attack of the naval base there.

    He talked about the Veterans Memorial in the community, and remembers going there as a small boy, he remembered the Gold Cross that was there. His mother would take him there, and always told him to stand tall and salute as they attended Memorial Day services.

    He remembered going to Pearl Harbor where his dad is buried and found  his fathers grave. He told his father that he would always remember his Duty, Honor, and his Country.

    He talked about a boyhood friend of his father that told him the story of he and his dad who attended the Yellow Medicine County Fair when they were 16. There was a champion boxer there that would offer a prize to anyone that could stay in the ring with him for a certain amount of time. Dukee at that time said, “I think I can do this.” When he went into the ring he was told to “put up his dukes,” and then proceeded to hit the canvas after just one punch. After that the name Dukee just stuck, Kjorness said.

    Kjorness said a friend  of “Dukee’s” told him that his dad would not have had to served, because he had a wife and a couple of small kids. He did it out of a sense of duty to his country.

    Kjorness told a story about a World War II veteran that had served on a navy vessel in the South Pacific. Their ship was sunk and most of the survivors were picked up by the Japanese and taken to a prison camp in the Phillipines as P.O.Ws. While there he was down to 90 pounds when they were liberated by U.S. forces. It took a terrible  toll on many of the men, but he was one that survived. He told him he remembers all the young men that didn’t make it — they served with duty and honor for their country.

    In  closing Kjorness said, “I’m proud to be Dukee’s boy!”

    After the address, the band played Dreams of Victory. Before the American Legion color guard retired the colors.

    Then wreaths were placed on crosses to commemorate the various wars. The rifle squad fired a salute prior to the playing of Taps and Echo by Ricky Yang, and Nathan Ross.


    In Westbrook the Westbrook VFW and American Legion and their Auxiliaries held a program at WWG High School at 10:30 Monday morning.

    The legion and VFW posts advanced the colors, and the WWG  High School band played the National Anthem.

    Pastor Bruce Berg from Trinity Lutheran Church of Westbrook and Our Saviors Lutheran Church of Dovray, gave the Invocation, followed by Legion Commander, Dennis Phelps giving the Memorial Introduction.  The  VFW prayer was recited by Marlowe Nelsen.

    Special music was performed by a chorus of Legion and VFW members, and accompanied by Deloris Winter.

    John Madson and Dennis Phelps read the roll call of fallen veterans of past wars as auxiliary members, Annette Mischke and LaVonne Hanson, placed wreaths on the grave.

    John Madson then introduced the Memorial Day speaker, Pastor Bruce Berg, who served in the Navy for 28 years.

    Berg asked the people to remember the men and women who have served this country. To honor our American Heros from all wars and by celebrating with them the sacrifices they made.

    It seemed at one time  that Memorial Day would become just another day off to have picnics, and other activities.

    However today it seems like there is more attention given to the remembrance of our war heros.

    Recent conflicts like Viet Nam, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan has brought a certain measure of patriotism back to our country.

    He talked about all the war memorials that have been established in recent past years.

    It is a special day to remember our war heros — I encourage you to remember the courage of those who gave their lives for the defense of our country and it’s freedom.

    Those we remember were ordinary men and women doing an extraordinary task and acted in a selfless manner to fight and die for our freedom.

    If you want to honor a veteran,  — Listen to them — don’t make them carry the burden of their hardships alone.

    “I am honored to remember those who we honor today,” he said. They say old soldiers never die, but we should never forget the sacrifices they made. He then thanked the audience for being there today to remember those that gave their lives to protect our country and freedom.

    Following the address the band played a patriotic selection.

    Pastor Berg then   gave the benediction and the colors were retired.