Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Honoring our veterans November 11, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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A star marks a veteran's grave in a southern Minnesota cemetery. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

A bronze star marks a veteran’s grave in a southern Minnesota cemetery. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

ACCORDING TO THE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, here’s the definition of Veterans Day:

A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Today, on Veterans Day, consider those words and thank a veteran.

Within my extended family, I’d like to thank my brothers-in-law, Marty, Jon, Neil and Tom, and my sisters-in-law, Rosie, Jamie and Rena, and nephew, Jonathan, for their service to our country.

Who would you like to thank?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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9 Responses to “Honoring our veterans”

  1. Almost Iowa Says:

    I thank my grandmother – though she never enlisted, she was still a veteran.

    She lived all her life in the Summit-Dale neighborhood and worked for the state highway department. Every day she walked to and from work regardless of the weather because she enjoyed walking. It was her time to be alone with her thought. The only time she dreaded it was walking home after dark in late 1944.

    On her walk home, she would turn the corner from Summit onto Holly Avenue and usually be greeted by a long line of dark houses. Occasionally though, light would spill off a porch and the headlights of cars would shine in the street. This meant the family had received bad news and friends and relatives were coming over to comfort them.

    One day, just before Christmas in 1944, she turned the corner and noticed a house with every light on. In a panic, she ran up the block and found that her worst fears were realized – it was her house.

    When she reached the porch – everyone was smiling. Her son, my uncle Jack, an army ranger who survived the first wave at Omaha Beach had been wounded in the elbow; he was coming home.

    Jack went on to become a prominent structural engineer who helped design many well-known Twin Cities landmarks and dedicated the last of his career to saving old churches.

    His brother, my uncle Clint never really came home. A part of him remained in France. He took his life in the mid-1960’s.

    • Greg, thank you for sharing this deeply heart-rendering family story. I cannot imagine being those mothers, with minimal communication with their sons. And, oh, those families that received the devastating news…

      I semi-understand the bit about your Uncle Clint. My dad served on the front lines during the Korean War. That horrible experience of death and cold and personal loss forever changed him and haunted him until his death from cancer in 2003.

  2. Thank you to my father and his brothers and my cousins as well as those family members on my husband’s side that have served or are serving this country! I recently lost an uncle and he had a beautiful send off with the honor guard who did the gun salute and played taps – Thank you to the Honor Guard! Thank you to all the men and women who serve this country to keep us safe and secure! Happy Veteran’s Day – Remember to Thank a Veteran Today!

    • Thank you for sharing your personal thank yous, Renee. The recent death of your uncle brings it all to the surface, doesn’t it? The sacrifice, the honor, the service. I, too, am grateful for the Honor Guard. I remember, at my dad’s 2003 death, the folding of the flag, the playing of taps, the bone-chilling cold of that April morning in a southwestern Minnesota cemetery. My grief matched the day.

    • The emotions are still a little raw for me. At least he went his way because that is the way he is. It has been a tough year to year and a half with three of my uncles not doing well – one with cancer and two dealing with heart disease.

  3. My Grandfather and my neighbor. I plan to take some goodies over to him later today.


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