Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A photo essay: Celebrating Memorial Day in Faribault May 25, 2015

The Color Guard always leads the parade.

The parade begins with the Rice County Central Veterans Association Honor Guard/Color Guard leading the way.

FOR THE THIRTY-THREE YEARS I’ve lived in Faribault, I’ve rarely missed a Memorial Day parade and the program that follows in Central Park.

Little Ivan arrives for the parade in a car pushed by his dad, Jake.

Little Ivan arrives for the parade in a car pushed by his dad, Jake.

It’s a time-honored tradition of music and marches, salutes and speeches, flags and families.

Saluting the flag.

Saluting the flag at the ceremony in Central Park.

I’m proud to live in a community where patriotism and service to country and respect for the American flag and all it means runs strong from generation to generation.

From kids to adults, many are dressed in a patriotic red, white and blue.

From kids to adults, many are dressed in a patriotic red, white and blue.

Honorary Grand Marshall, Adrian Gillen, rides in the parade alongside his wife, Jean. The couple both served their country and were duo grand marshalls.

Grand Marshal, Adrian Gillen, rides in the parade alongside his wife, Jean. The couple both served their country and were duo grand marshals.

David Kirkpatrick, who is my eldest daughter's classmate, was the honorary grand marshall.

David Kirkpatrick, who is my eldest daughter’s classmate, was the honorary grand marshal.

The Shattuck-St. Mary's Crack Squad always marches in the parade and always fires their guns.

The Shattuck-St. Mary’s Crack Squad always marches in the parade and always fires their guns.

Cub

The Scouts always hand out American flags during the parade.

The parade includes vintage vehicles.

The parade includes vintage vehicles.

You know the parade is ending when horses and riders arrive.

You know the parade is ending when horses and riders arrive.

At Central Park, the Bethlehem Academy Band awaits their turn to play the National Anthem.

At Central Park, the Bethlehem Academy Band awaits their turn to play the National Anthem.

Some attendees clutch American flags.

Some attendees clutch American flags.

Honored veterans Adrian Gillen, left, and brothers Matt and David Kirkpatrick.

Honored veterans Adrian Gillen, left, and brothers Matt and David Kirkpatrick.

Veterans Travis Quinlan watches the program at the park with hundreds of others.

Veteran Travis Quinlan watches the program at the park with hundreds of others. He was also a classmate of my eldest daughter.

Hundreds gathered in Central Park for the program, presented on the bandshell. The Girl Scouts participated with a presentation on flag folding and more.

Hundreds gathered in Central Park for the program, presented on the bandshell. The Girl Scouts participated with a presentation on flag folding and more.

Archie Temple walked in the parade and then arrived at the park for the Memorial Day program. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1952-1956, during the time of the Korean War.

Archie Temple walked in the parade and then arrived at the park for the Memorial Day program. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1952-1956, during the time of the Korean War. That’s his original Navy uniform.

Honored combat veteran David Kirkpatrick address the crowd as grand marshalls Jean and Adrian Gillen watch.

Honored combat veteran Matt Kirkpatrick addresses the crowd. Grand marshals Jean and Adrian Gillen are seated next to the podium.

David Kirkpatrick gives a few brief remarks.

David Kirkpatrick speaks briefly.

As is tradition each year, members of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 43 place wreaths on the memorial cross.

As is tradition each year, members of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 43 place wreaths on the memorial cross.

The Color Guard is an important part of the day's events.

The Honor Guard/Color Guard is an important part of the day’s events.

As they left the park, veterans Travis Quinlan, left, and David and Matt Kirkpatrick posed for one last photo. Travis and David were Faribault High School classmates.

As they left the park, veterans Travis Quinlan, left, and David and Matt Kirkpatrick posed for one last photo. Travis and David were Faribault High School classmates.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

American pride on Memorial Day weekend

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Downtown Waseca, Minnesota, on Memorial Day weekend.

Downtown Waseca, Minnesota, on Memorial Day weekend.

MEMORIAL DAY BRINGS a focused gratefulness for freedom. And nothing is more visually representative of freedom in the U.S. than the American flag.

Another scene from downtown Waseca, on the other side of the street.

Another scene from downtown Waseca, on the other side of the street.

This weekend those flags are flying seemingly everywhere. On front porches, from flag poles and from lamp posts.

Driving eastbound on U.S. Highway 14 between Nicollet and Mankato.

Driving eastbound on U.S. Highway 14 between Nicollet and Mankato.

I feel my national pride swell at the sight of flags flying in communities like Elysian, Waseca and Morristown. On a Saturday trip from Faribault to Belview and back, I noticed the red-white-and-blue adorning homes, businesses, pick-up trucks and even silos. Just outside of Morristown, a couple grilled on their deck, an American flag waving in the wind just inches away.

A business in downtown Belview, Minnesota.

A business in downtown Belview, Minnesota.

I am thankful to live in this country. And grateful to those men and women who died for freedom. Because of them, I am free to express myself through writing and photography. Free.

The American flag on a bag of  Crystal Sugar.

The American flag on a bag of Crystal Sugar.

On Sunday, as I diced rhubarb in my kitchen, I pulled a bag of sugar from the cupboard. And there, at the top of the bag, was printed an American flag. I paused in that moment, remembering the words I’d sung hours earlier at Trinity Lutheran Church, where I am free to worship:

God bless America, Land that I love,
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with a light from above…

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
“God Bless America” by Irving Berlin