St. Peterites, like those around the region and across the country, can honor military service members who died through the years at a ceremony on Monday.
The city’s Memorial Day ceremony will once again be at 10:30 a.m. at Minnesota Square Park.
“Memorial Day is especially important for the families of those we lost,” said David Arpin, second vice-commander for William R. Witty American Legion Post 37 and chairman for the Memorial Day committee. “It’s a humbling experience to talk to who lost their service member.”
Like last year, crosses bearing the names and photos of Minnesotans killed in action since 2001 will be arranged off College Avenue. And the names of service members from St. Peter who died while in the military, collected by the St. Peter Area Veterans Memorial Association, will be read as part of the service.
Arpin, who served for 22 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves, asked a fellow noncommissioned officer from the 79th Military Police Company to speak this year. Sergeant First Class Damon Brunow, who deployed to Iraq with Arpin during Operation Iraqi Freedom and moved to St. Peter last summer, will give the keynote address.
“He’s very qualified to give one,” Arpin said.
The Memorial Day ceremony is preceded by a procession of American Legion Color Guard and Govenaires Drum and Bugle Corps from the Nicollet County Courthouse to Minnesota Square Park, starting around 10:15 a.m. The Legion’s color guard will walk on South Minnesota Avenue from Mulberry Street to College Avenue, then walk west on College Avenue to Third Street.
It’s a slightly different route than in years past, when they cut from the corner of College and Minnesota avenues. But it’s likely the new route, as the veterans memorial is planned for that corner. Arpin said the park, a centerpiece for the city, is a fitting location for the memorial.
“What a way to honor those who have sacrificed, both the living and dead,” he said. “I can’t wait until we have the dedication ceremony.”
After the ceremony at Minnesota Square Park, the color guard performs honors for those lost or buried at sea, accompanied by taps and the American Legion Auxiliary throwing red flowers into the river. The ceremony is displaced from its usual Hwy. 99 bridge location and this year will be at the boat launch at Mill Park Pond, east of City Hall.
St. Peter has a rich history of service and sacrifice, Arpin said, and Memorial Day is the community’s chance to remember that.
“It’s not about thanking vets,” he said. “It’s not about service members. It’s about those who we went with and didn’t come home.”