Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Southern Minnesota snapshots of the stars-and-stripes July 5, 2015

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An American flag flies at the Perkins restaurant in North Mankato on Sunday afternoon.

An American flag flies at the Perkins restaurant in North Mankato on Sunday afternoon.

A VISIBLE SPIRIT of American patriotism prevailed in rural southern Minnesota this July Fourth weekend. Like so many other places in this great country of ours.

Along U.S. Highway 14 on the north side of Mankato.

Along U.S. Highway 14 on the north side of Mankato.

As my husband, son and I journeyed from Faribault to Lamberton for a family gathering, I noticed the red, white and blue everywhere.

Flags line a cemetery entry along U.S. Highway 14 in New Ulm Saturday afternoon.

Flags line a cemetery entry along U.S. Highway 14 in New Ulm Saturday afternoon.

I love this show of pride in America, in the freedom the stars-and-stripes represents.

Two of my nieces and a nephew were among those gathered in rural Lamberton on the Fourth of July.

Two of my nieces and a nephew, dressed in patriotic attire, were among those gathered in rural Lamberton on the Fourth of July. Photo by Randy Helbling.

How blessed I am to live in this land.

MORE RED, WHITE AND BLUE:

American flags line U.S. Highway 14 in downtown Sleepy Eye.

American flags line buildings along U.S. Highway 14 in downtown Sleepy Eye.

A close-up of a flag in downtown Sleepy Eye.

Downtown Sleepy Eye.

A patriotic can cooler.

A patriotic can cooler.

Flags in a window overlooking the patio at my brother and sister-in-law's home.

Flags in a window overlooking the patio at my brother and sister-in-law’s home.

This is the old manure spreader from the farm where I grew up. My sister-in-law attached the patriotic bunting for the Fourth.

This is the old manure spreader, now used to showcase flowers, from the farm where I grew up. My sister-in-law attached the patriotic bunting for the Fourth.

Sunday afternoon in Elysian, a flag flies over a tent on the Trails of History event.

Sunday afternoon in Elysian, a flag flies over a tent on the Trails of History event.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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On-the-road patriotism, Minnesota style July 4, 2015

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American flags a wavin', this truck takes the northbound entrance ramp onto Interstate 35 off Minnesota State Highway 60 Friday afternoon.

American flags a wavin’, this truck takes the northbound entrance ramp onto Interstate 35 off Minnesota State Highway 60 Friday afternoon in Faribault.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July, everyone!

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

American pride on Memorial Day weekend May 25, 2015

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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

 

Small town patriotism February 26, 2014

American pride along First Street, Montgomery, Minnesota.

American pride along First Street, Montgomery, Minnesota.

EVERY MORNING as an elementary school student in rural Minnesota, I joined my classmates in facing the corner of the classrooom to gaze upon the American flag. Hands across hearts, we recited the pledge:

I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United State of America
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one nation under God, indivisible,
with Liberty and Justice for all.

The same photo, edited.

The same photo, edited.

Those words imprinted upon my memory, instilled a sense of pride in my country and a realization that I live in a nation blessed.

And edited again...

And edited again…

Precious words. Somewhat muddied now. But still, ever so dear.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Faribault American Legion honors the fallen July 22, 2013

Folks begin to gather at the FrontLine Honors Ceremony at Faribault American Legion Post 43. This Sunday marked the largest attendance since the event began following 9/11.

Folks begin to gather at the FrontLine Honors Ceremony at Faribault American Legion Post 43. This Sunday marked the largest attendance since the event began following 9/11.

OUTSIDE FARIBAULT AMERICAN Legion Post 43, shortly before 1 p.m. Sunday, the crowd began to gather.

Many Vietnam veterans attended the ceremony.

Many Vietnam veterans attended the ceremony.

Veterans. Their wives. Relatives of veterans. Those who care about those who’ve served. Patriotic Americans.

The Color Guard awaits the start of the ceremony as does Carter Quinlan, who later will receive an American flag honoring the Quinlan family.

The Color Guard awaits the start of the ceremony as does Carter Quinlan, who later will receive an American flag honoring the Quinlan family.

On the third Sunday of every month, every Sunday since September 11, 2001, the Legion has hosted a FrontLine Honors Ceremony honoring those service members who have died in the past 30 days while serving their country.

Carter Quinlan salutes in respect during the ceremony.

Carter Quinlan salutes in respect during the ceremony.

This month the list of deceased included 14 Americans—Sonny, Benjamin, Errol, Tracy, Hilda, Justin, Corey, Javier, Justin, Ember, Robert, William, Jared, Jesse.

Someone’s son. Someone’s daughter.

Hometown men and women from places like Waynesfield, Ohio; Kennewick, Washington; and Gentry, Arkansas.

Some dead due to hostile rocket fire and other attacks, others for non-hostile reasons.

American Legion Post Commander Kirk Mansfield led the ceremony and read the names of the deceased.

American Legion Post Commander Kirk Mansfield leads the ceremony and reads the names of the deceased.

On the informational sheet distributed to those in attendance, a line typed across the bottom summarizes well the purpose of the gathering:

These 14 Americans have sacrificed their lives for you and your country. Never forget.

Young Carter hugs the American flag, which he accepted in honor of his military family.

Young Carter hugs the American flag, which he accepted in honor of his military family.

I expect many in attendance will also remember the presentation of the Legion’s American flag to 4 ½-year-old Carter Quinlan. Each month the Legion’s U.S. flag is retired and gifted to a local military family, on this Sunday the Quinlans of Faribault. Carter, who stood as solemn and respectful as any adult in attendance, accepted the folded flag on behalf of his father, Derek; grandfather, Mark; and uncle, Travis. (Click here to read a previous post on this presentation.)

A new flag was then hoisted to fly for another month outside the Legion, where, on the third Sunday of August, at 1 p.m., folks will gather again for another FrontLine Honors Ceremony.

BONUS FLAG PRESENTATION PHOTOS:

Mark Quinlan, who served with the U.S. Navy and Air Force, lowers the flag to be presented to his grandson, Carter.

Mark Quinlan, who served with the U.S. Navy and Air Force, lowers the flag to be presented to his grandson, Carter.

The respectful process begins of properly folding the U.S. flag.

The respectful process begins of properly folding the U.S. flag.

The flag folding continues...

The flag folding continues…

Carter accepts the flag for his military family.

Carter accepts the flag for his military family.

Another shot of the crowd near the end of the service.

Another shot of the crowd near the end of the service.

FYI: Watch for a forthcoming post about the dedication of a veterans’ memorial on private property along Roberds Lake, rural Faribault.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In Faribault: A sweet moment of American patriotism July 21, 2013

IT’S ONE OF THOSE SWEET MOMENTS which, as a photographer, you hope to capture.

Sunday afternoon, standing outside American Legion Post 43 in Faribault, at the once-a-month event to change out the Post’s American flag, honor a local military family and remember the American service members who have lost their lives in the past 30 days, I caught that moment.

Carter Quinlan, 4 ½, of Faribault, had just accepted the Post’s retired U.S. flag in honor of his father, Derek, a member of the Air Force Reserves; his uncle, Travis Quinlan, with the Minnesota National Guard; and his grandfather, Mark Quinlan, who served with the U.S. Navy and Air Force, when I snapped this photo:

Flag presentation

The look of awe and respect on Carter’s face is one we should all emulate. To show this level of respect for those who serve and for the American flag at such a young age is remarkable. Truly remarkable.

You can see the delight in Legion Post Commander Kirk Mansfield’s face. Carter did this Gulf War veteran proud, as he did all of us who appreciate our veterans and value our freedom.

FYI: Please watch for more photos from this event and from the dedication of a private veterans’ memorial along Roberds Lake, rural Faribault.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Displaying the red, white & blue in small town America July 4, 2013

Flag buntings decorate an historic home in the beautiful river town of Decorah, Iowa.

Flag buntings decorate an historic home in the beautiful river town of Decorah, Iowa.

SIGNS OF U.S. PRIDE/patriotism/love of country are evident everywhere this week in small town Midwestern America.

Here are a few examples from a recent short trip into southeastern Minnesota, western Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa.

Enjoy.

And Happy Fourth of July, dear readers.

Chalk art at St. Feriole Island Gardens in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, along the Mississippi River.

Chalk art at St. Feriole Island Gardens in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, along the Mississippi River.

Snapped through the windshield of the van, this aged elevator and flag to the right, entering the Mississippi River town of Marquette, Iowa, from the north.

Snapped through the windshield of the van, this aged elevator and flag, to the right, entering the Mississippi River town of Marquette, Iowa, from the north.

A few miles to the south in McGregor, Iowa, I found this "God bless America" sticker and humorous welcome on the door of a bar.

A few miles to the south in McGregor, Iowa, I found this “God bless America” sticker and humorous welcome on the door of a bar.

I spotted plenty of American flags in the Mississippi River town of Lansing, Iowa.

I spotted plenty of American flags in the historic Mississippi River town of Lansing, Iowa.

Signs and a flag in Lansing, Iowa.

Signs and a flag in Lansing, Iowa.

Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling