Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Heather needs your help to thank a veteran November 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 4:28 PM
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Heather Weller after delivering thank yous to veterans at the veterans’ home in Fergus Falls in November 2011.

KRISTI WELLER of New York Mills emailed me this morning asking for help in publicizing a project her 14-year-old daughter, Heather, is undertaking for Veterans’ Day.

For the fourth year, Heather is gathering thank you notes for her “Thank a Veteran” program. You can help by writing and emailing a thank you to veteranthankyou@gmail.com. But hurry. Heather is planning to deliver the emails and handwritten cards she’s collected on Sunday, November 11, Veterans’ Day, to veterans’ homes in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and Fargo, North Dakota.

This ambitious eighth grader has collected and distributed more than 8,000 thank yous to veterans and soldiers in three years. How great is that?

Kristi sent me a wealth of information, too much really, to share with you. So I’d suggest checking out Heather’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thank-a-Veteran/116200178444473

Buried in the details of Heather’s charitable work for veterans, I found a particularly profound piece of information shared by her mother. Heather has been teaching 30 students in a 4-H Cloverbud class about gratitude for our veterans. The kindergartners through second graders have made thank you cards that Heather will deliver.

And in the process of teaching these young 4-Hers, Kristi says her daughter learned this: “…most of them thought that a veteran was someone who took care of animals. Kind of sad.”

That is why we need passionate youth such as Heather who appreciate and support veterans through projects like “Thank a Veteran,” “Holiday Mail for Heroes,” Quilts of Valor,” “Project New Hope” and more. Heather educates, speaks, promotes, crafts, thanks.

And she’s planning, too, to gather veterans’ stories for the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

Won’t you join Heather in thanking a veteran for his/her service to our country? Again, email your message of gratitude (include your name, town and state) by this Saturday to: veteranthankyou@gmail.com

FYI: To learn more about Heather’s work, click here to read a post I published last November.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photo courtesy of Kristi Weller

 

Thoughts on a weekend journey to Fargo and back under grey November skies

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:52 AM
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Westbound for Fargo on Interstate 94 near the West Union exit on Saturday morning.

NEARLY 10 HOURS in a vehicle traveling almost 600 miles round trip to Fargo, North Dakota, under the gloomiest of grey November skies can test one’s endurance.

The eyes began to wander, to lock onto the slightest patches of color in an otherwise dull and monotone landscape.

Billboards offer a diversion as do the semis which follow Interstate 94, some forking north toward Canada, others continuing even farther west into the endless grey expanse.

A section of the journey where there are still hills. My eyes focus on the brilliant red hue of the barn.

Near Barnesville, a short distance east of Fargo and Moorhead, piles of corn brighten the muted landscape.

Hunters in bright orange roam fields during the opening weekend of firearms deer hunting in Minnesota.

Red barns and piles of golden corn and deer hunters in blaze orange distract me from the barren greyness of this journey to the Red River valley. I wonder at that use of the word “valley,” for I see no indentations in the earth to suggest a valley.

This quaint country church in the distance somewhere east of Fargo/Moorhead always calms my spirits.

I am a prairie native. But even for me, the flat land west of Fergus Falls and into Fargo/Moorhead challenges my spirit. I feel insecure and diminished in this place and that unsettles me.

How can a place seem so flat that I feel as if I will step off the earth should I journey any further than the northwestern fringes of Fargo?

Downtown Fargo late Saturday afternoon under sullen skies with a light mist falling.

More gloomy skies on the return trip from Fargo to Faribault on Sunday afternoon.

Spots of orange (slow moving vehicle signs) provide a respite for my eyes on Sunday’s drive home.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling