Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

With thoughtful gratitude on Veterans Day November 11, 2022

A bronze statue titled “Poppie” personalizes the Rock County Veterans Memorial in Luverne as do the names of some 1,600 veterans engraved in pavers. I’ve seen a lot of veterans memorials and this is among the most impressive. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo August 2013)

NEARLY EVERY COMMUNITY has one. A veterans memorial. I appreciate that public recognition of military service in communities from rural to urban. Yet, acknowledgment of our veterans must stretch beyond public memorials.

Today, Veterans Day, I pause to personally thank the individuals who have served our country. That’s important to remember—individual service and sacrifice. I expect most of you can rattle off names of those in your circle who engaged in combat or other military work. They left their homes, their everyday lives, to answer the call of duty.

I feel gratitude to individuals who, either by draft or by choice, stood strong for democracy. Words like courage, commitment, strength, fortitude…filter into my thoughts when I think of our veterans.

But I also think of the physical, emotional and mental challenges too many combat veterans face post-war. I can never comprehend the pain, the trauma, the grief experienced by those who fought in war zones. I only know how my own father, an infantryman in the Korean War, battled the demons of war during his lifetime. That glimpse was enough to elicit deep concern within me.

We are making strides in recognizing and treating post traumatic stress disorder, for example. Not until near his 2003 death was my dad aware of his PTSD. He never got the intervention and help he needed upon arriving home from war. I’m thankful for the help available today, although I expect sometimes it’s not easily-accessible and not nearly enough.

Suicide among veterans remains high. After hearing a few of my dad’s stories of war atrocities and killing, I recognize the emotional and mental tolls on health. Returning to everyday life after experiencing the traumas of war brings challenges civilians will never fully understand. We need to be there for our veterans in ways that matter—support, compassion, care, understanding—with gratitude in our hearts.

TELL ME: If you’re a veteran, what would you like to hear today, Veterans Day? How can we as a country better honor and help you? If you know a veteran, what have you done to honor and help veterans?

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


17 Responses to “With thoughtful gratitude on Veterans Day”

  1. beth Says:

    I love this post, it’s something that many don’t take the time to consider. I thank each and every one of them for their service. I know that their challenges continue long after their official duties are over and it’s out job to give back by supporting them with whatever they need.

  2. Ida Fetterer Says:

    As a female military Veteran, I am honored to have served this great country of ours. When I joined many years ago now(back in 1974) it was not popular to be a woman in the military. I appreciate the recognition on this day each year. I was in the Air Force and my husband in the Marines, together we celebrate this day and are grateful to all military members for stepping up and serving. We are proud of flag we are patriots and continue to ask God’s Blessings on our Nation.

    • Ida, I appreciate that you took the time, as a veteran, to share your thoughts and experience here. You’re right that 1974 was not a popular time for a woman to be in the military. That you chose to do so reveals something about your individual strength. My best to you and your husband for serving.

  3. God bless each and every one of them. Nice piece, Audrey. ❤

  4. Thanks for this blog in support of all of us who have served. What an honor to have you in my blog circle!


  5. True Patriots each and every one of them – God Bless & Thank You!!! We support in being part of the local Veteran’s Clubs in our community as well as the organization I work for is a community organization supporting those with their health care needs. My work organization has really stepped up with mental health services offered over the past few years. I believe in caring for the whole being to be well and live a good life. God Bless America, Here’s to Waving the Red, White & Blue, Thanks for your Service and giving us Security and Safety. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  6. Valerie Says:

    Thank you for this post Audrey. It was very interesting to read the link from the Cedar Journal.
    When I told Ezra his great-grandpa (my dad) was a veteran, he was excited to learn that.

  7. Rosie Quale Says:

    Thanks for the post Audrey. A simple “Thank you” is appreciated by any veteran. The simple act of respecting our country no matter your political views mean a lot to me. Stand for the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem. Go out to vote. Teach your kids what patriotism is all about. It’s not about being Republican as recent politics might confuse young people, it’s about basic respect.

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