Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thank you, veterans November 11, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:56 AM
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A star marks a veteran’s grave. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


I AWAKENED EARLY this morning writing this post in my head, before I fell back into a fitful sleep. Words flowed earlier. Now, though, I’ve forgotten the precise phrasing. But the essence of my thoughts remains. Thank you, veterans.


Howard Homeier, a WW II veteran from Kenyon, Minnesota, in his cherished 1950s pick-up truck. When I photographed him in 2009, he’d just participated in a ceremony honoring veterans. He was a member of the Kenyon Color Guard. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2009.


Thank you for all you sacrificed to serve, to protect our freedom and that of other nations and peoples. Thank you for placing country before self. Thank you for your bravery and fortitude, for your resilience and strength, for your ability to forge on in the most difficult of circumstances.

Thank you for setting aside your personal and family lives, for all those days and nights apart from those you love. That could not have been easy. Separation never is.

Thank you to your families for enduring this separation, for supporting you, for recognizing the importance of your work.


My father, Elvern Kletscher, on the left with two of his soldier buddies in Korea.


Those two words—thank you—don’t seem nearly enough. But I write them with sincerity and a depth of understanding founded in the experiences of my Korean War veteran father. I saw the toll war took on him, decades after he left Korea. He fought there in the rugged mountains of that nation, rifle in hand, firing at the enemy, hugging the earth of foxholes, taking out a sniper who killed too many of his brothers. War is hard.

And so thank you seems insufficient. But it is what I offer to you today. From my heart.


A veteran salutes during the Memorial Day Program at Faribault’s Central Park. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2018.


ADDITIONALLY, I want to share that the above photo I took of a veteran at the 2018 Memorial Day program at Central Park in Faribault, recently won third place in the People category of National Mutual Benefit’s 2019 Photo Contest. National Mutual is a fraternal life insurance society based in Madison, Wisconsin and through which my parents purchased a policy for me as a baby.

I am honored to have this image chosen for recognition and publication. It is just one more way for me to say, “Thank you, veterans.”

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


13 Responses to “Thank you, veterans”

  1. Missy’s Håndarbeid (Missy’s Crafty Mess) Says:

    Your father was just a child in that photograph yet more of a man than a lot of future generations! I personally think they should bring back the draft! It might instill some patriotism and thankfulness for their sacrifices!

  2. Thank You does not seem enough, however; I know when I say it it comes from my heart and the fiber of my being. My grandma had 5 sons serving in the Air Force at one point and I do not know how she did it. We recently lost a great man and WWII Veteran here and his memorial will be packed on Sunday. It was like Cheers at the American Legion or VFW because everyone knew who he was and would say hi! and even buy him a drink or meal. I will miss seeing him trike around town on his red trike with the American flag flying behind him. To be in his 90’s and to be biking every day truly inspired me to live life each and every day. Thanks so much for sharing – Thanks to the Veterans and Those That Are Currently Serving (my nephew is in the Marines)!!! Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  3. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Just a big heartfelt thank you to those who fought for our freedom!

  4. Edward Brian Says:

    Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words Audrey. I wanted to see the world after growing up in the country on a North Dakota Indian reservation, and the Navy provided that opportunity and more. I’ve always considered it a blessing and privilege to serve our country, traveling around the world was frosting on the cake.

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