Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Honoring our veterans at a Memorial Day parade in Faribault May 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:45 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,
The annual Memorial Day parade, which I've attended for decades, begins along Central Avenue in Faribault.

The annual Memorial Day parade, which I’ve attended for decades, begins along Central Avenue in Faribault.

UNDER OVERCAST SKIES sometimes spitting drizzle, and in 54-degree temps, folks gathered along Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault this morning to honor veterans.

Perched under an umbrella held by my husband, Randy, I photographed the annual Memorial Day parade from my curbside lawn chair, wiping the occasional drops of rain from my camera lens.

The Color Guard leads the parade.

The Color Guard leads the parade.

Kids scramble for candy.

Kids scramble for candy.

Veterans riding in the parade.

Veterans ride in the parade.

As I focused on the marching veterans and musicians, the kids scrambling for candy, the American flags and more, I considered that my uncomfortableness in the morning chill was nothing, nothing at all, compared to what many of these vets endured.

I thought of my dad, dead 10 years now, and his stories of the bone-chilling cold he felt while fighting on the front lines during the Korean Conflict.

Girl Scouts walk in the rain at the end of the parade.

Girl Scouts walk in the rain at the end of the parade.

And then, after the parade, when I skipped the Memorial Day Program at Faribault’s Central Park because the drizzle had turned to steady rain, I questioned that decision. Why couldn’t I sit for 30 minutes in the cold and rain and listen to these veterans?

When Randy (who had gone to the park) texted that I could hear the program on the local radio station, I tuned in to KDHL and listened to honored combat veteran Jerry Anderson, who served in Vietnam. Anderson didn’t speak of his Vietnam experiences. Rather he reminisced about coming home from Vietnam to unappreciative and protesting Americans and the shame he and other vets felt.

But years later, in 1986, he helped to organize a group of nearly 50 Vietnam veterans to march in Faribault’s Heritage Days parade. He recalled the “thank yous,” the clapping, the signs, the tears…

That parade, he said, “helped end the years of shame and bitterness once and for all.”

Honorary Grand Marshal Bob Sommers and his wife, Raquel.

Faribault native and Honorary Grand Marshal Bob Sommers and his wife, Raquel.

Then, just as my friend, Bob Sommers, honorary grand marshal who served two tours of duty in Iraq, was about to speak, the radio station’s line to the Memorial Day Program cut out.

A vet on a motorized scooter tossed candy to the kids.

A vet on a motorized scooter tosses candy to the kids.

So I returned to my computer, to selecting and editing photos and writing these words, asking you, today, to please remember those who have served, and to thank them.

BONUS PARADE PHOTOS:

Bands from Bethlehem Academy, shown here, and Faribault High School performed.

Bands from Bethlehem Academy, shown here, and Faribault High School performed.

This vintage car exited the parade route after about two blocks. My husband automotive machinist diagnosed a blown head gasket.

This vintage car exited the parade route after about two blocks. My husband automotive machinist diagnosed a blown head gasket.

Horses on parade through our historic downtown.

Horses on parade through our historic downtown.

The Boy Scouts always follow to scoop up the horse poop.

The Cub Scouts always follow to scoop up the horse poop.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling