Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reflecting on Veterans Day November 11, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , ,

U.S. Army Cpl. Elvern Kletscher, my father, in the trenches in Korea.


IT’S EASY ENOUGH to write words of praise on Veterans Day. Those are words we expect. And they should be spoken, written.

But there are other words which also need exposure. Like sacrifice, pain, guilt, suffering. I saw all of those in my dad, who fought on the front lines in the Korean War. Kill or be killed. He shared little of his experiences, but just enough that I understood the horror he saw, the horror he endured, the pain he would carry with him throughout his life. Peace eluded him. I felt helpless to help him. And I don’t know that I could have, never experiencing war as he did. Eventually he joined a veterans’ support group decades after the war, when post traumatic stress disorder was finally recognized. It helped him to talk to those who understood.

Please take time today to reflect. Reflect on those who served and who still serve.

Be thankful for those who are working hard to keep America safe. Freedom is never a guarantee and today, more than ever, I am fully cognizant of that.

To my many family members and friends who have served in the U.S. military, to my readers who have done likewise, thank you for your service. Because of you, I have the freedom to write this post, to continue to write, to live in a nation where I can go to the polls and vote.

Thank you, veterans, for the personal sacrifices you made for your country. Today I honor you.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


29 Responses to “Reflecting on Veterans Day”

  1. You are awesome to write such an caring tribute to our veteran’s.

    Freedom is never free!

  2. charlypriest Says:

    As man who fought with the Americans, I´m from the Spanish Legion, this was a great tribute to your men and women who serve.

  3. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    Poppies blow, beneath the crosses, row on row. We will remember them. Remember, yes, remember to tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘round not just an old oak tree, but the whole avenue. We will remember you and what you did for us, the world.

  4. Laura Says:

    Thanks for this. Your comments hit home. My father, who just passed away in September, was also a veteran of the Korean War.

  5. treadlemusic Says:

    Yes, so much more needs to be said…..but where are the ears to hear—–REALLY hear?!? The very definition of “military” is so different today, as are the “wars” that are encountered. Historically, a war will have a beginning ‘declaration’ and some type of finishing point, but today………….???? We absolutely MUST honor those who have given so much and remember the many who are caught up in the (political?) actions of today for which I cannot envision any type of end/resolution. May the Lord’s mercy fall on us all………..

  6. BradG Says:

    Today is also the 242th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. Our son graduated from Parris Island as a PFC on this day 13 years ago. Thanks to all our veterans. Our flag is out today for you. OOH-RAH!!!!!

  7. cheryl schrader Says:

    I remember your father as a gentle person who loved his family and worked hard to that end. I had no idea what what happening behind the scenes and what he was going through, along with my husband’s father who served in WWII and so many others in all the wars. We owe them all a great big source of gratitude for what they did for us and our country. Now it is up to us to live up to their sacrifice and the standard they have set for us.

  8. wyonne Says:

    Powerful message, Audrey!

  9. Beth Ann Says:

    Echoing my thanks to all who have served, sacrificed and shared of themselves so freely.

  10. Gunny Says:

    As a Vet, I thank you all, as a son of a vet, I thank you all, as a grandson of a Vet, I again Thank you all. Matter of fact, my family history has a Vet that has fought in nearly all the wars the United States has been in starting with a colonial, who for King, Country and community, fought the Indians.

    Small towns are great places; Towns such as Albert Lea, Northfield, Red Wing, Kenyon, all bring to mind something of my various ancestors.

    I went to a parade in Fredericksburg, Texas yesterday. Matter of fact, I was in it. Whish you were there with your camera Audrey! This little town is the former home of Admiral Chester Nimitz. The hotel his family had still stands and is home of the War in the Pacific museum.

    Sons and daughters of the American Revolution, in period dress rode 2 floats, Native American Indians of almost every stripe, marched or rode floats as did the Confederates (3 floats plus a mounted Cavalry contingent), WWI Doughboys, Spanish / Mexican sons and daughters, Korean, WWII representation, Viet Nam, the Cold War and even the Gulf War and the War on Terrorism veterans were represented – with a high number in the dress of the war they represented or served in. A WWII B-25 flew overhead as did a Viet Nam era Huey helo. A bugler in Confederate period dress walked the entire parade barefoot! (Confederates were always short of footwear)

    600 metal poppies dotted the county court house lawn, some red, some gold for those killed in action (600 for those that served in WWI) . For such a small town, the turnout was amazing. Veterans not only rode, marched or walked in the parade, they lined the streets on both sides as spectators.

    While the larger cities disdain Confederate representations, not Fredericksburg!. Good German food and beer to boot! Fredericksburg was a German settlement by the mid 1800s and made a treaty with the Comanche Indians that was never broken. Fredericksburg was pretty much pro-union in the Civil War in a state where being so or at least acting on that side, was an act of treason. On the West end of Main street they have a very active Historical Society that has buildings, wagons and other artifacts on display.

    Keep in mind, that these festivities, the loss of comrades in arms either due to the wars they served or to the passage of time, is not lost on the veterans themselves. Army Private Gordon M. Gunhus was killed in Action on March 29, in Vietnam, while serving in the Armed Forces (Army) of The United states of America. The son of Edwin and Carol Hope Gunhus, he was born at Faribault on June 9, 1950.

    Gordon and I were cousins and were serving in Viet Nam at the same time frame (Audrey found a picture of him and posted it while viewing a traveling Memorial a few years back – Thanks Audrey!). Gordon is buried at the Gol Lutheran Church Cemetery in Kenyon, MN. He is buried along with good company as there are many family and veterans buried there.

    It was a very saddening day when I looked at the tactical status maps showing how much of Viet Nam fell to the North Vietnamese Army in 4 short hours during Operation Frequent Wind. If Americans think we are too hard on immigrants, let me tell you that the humanity that was flown out to those ships, that clung to floatsum, swam, boated to freedom awaiting them on the American warships, then they have closed their minds what the military does on their behalf in the service of their country. The vision of ships everywhere in a sea of human debris will never leave my eyes. Cuban refugees are another group America opened her hearts, pocket books and welfare roles to when they departed Cuba.

    My last trip to Minnesota, I made it a point to find his grave and pay my respects.

    Veteran’s Day maybe a day when others thank veterans for their service (and Thank You for that), but the true hero of the day is those who lost their lives in the service of their country. Like the t-shirt says “Don’t Thank Me, Thank my brothers and Sisters who never made it Back”.

  11. Jackie Says:

    I’m so thankful for the men and women (like your dad) who fought for our freedom. Thank you for the reminder that we all need not take for granted.

  12. What an amazing picture! Great post!

  13. Valerie Says:

    Setting aside days, holidays, to remember the veterans is a good thing. We so often forget, and take freedom for granted.
    Thanks to your father for his service. I’m sorry he had such struggles after he came back home, but grateful for his legacy.

  14. Bella Says:

    Thanks for posting this piece today and yes freedom is never a guarantee and something we must work to keep.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.