Under a picture-perfect Minnesota sky, Lonsdale-area residents, veterans and their families gathered Monday at the city’s veterans memorial to pay tribute to the men and women who gave their lives while serving their county.
And while the ceremony included the typical aspects of a Memorial Day commemoration — speeches, presentation of the colors, a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps — this one was Lonsdale-specific, with the reading of the names of each local serviceman killed in the line of duty, beginning shortly after the city was incorporated in 1903.
Names were grouped by the conflict or war in which they served as well as the cemetery in which they are buried.
“Many of them didn’t ask to leave their home to fight on distant battlefields. Many didn’t even volunteer,” said Mayor Tim Rud, the featured speaker. “They didn’t go to war because they loved fighting. They were called to be part of something bigger than themselves. They were ordinary people who responded on extraordinary ways in extreme times. They rose to the nation’s call because they wanted to protect a nation which has given them and us so much.”
Included in the remembrances were names of 10 area veterans who died within the last two years: Leonard Malecha, John “Nick” Schultz, Jerold O. Anderson, Neal R. Groth, David Carl Johnson, Allen C. Wilmot, Lawrence E. Baldwin, Bernard Thomas Simacek, George L. Novak and Terry J. Stepka.
American Legion Post 586 Commander Daryl Rieck led the ceremony, reading a history of Memorial Day juxtaposed with snippets of Lonsdale history, compiled by Steve Vosejpka.
“We must remember that freedom isn’t free,” he said. “In fact, it’s only possible because our fallen heroes have paid its high price,” he said.
Rieck encouraged the assembly to honor those fallen heroes often.
“Remembering our fallen once a year is not enough. The widows, widowers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children remember everyday. The empty seat at the dinner table, the smaller gathering at Thanksgiving and the voice of a loved one heard only as a distant memory in one’s mind are constant reminders that they are gone.”