Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

With Christmas gratitude December 23, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 1:13 PM
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Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.



Your identity is unknown to me. The single clue inside the legal-sized envelope with no return address shows me you are from the Faribault area. I suspect (hope) you read this blog.

Thank you for the cash gift which arrived in my mailbox today. I wasn’t expecting anything for Christmas.

You clearly possess a kind, caring and loving heart. I am grateful for your generosity, compassion and recognition that I really needed this gift. Not solely in the monetary sense, but to uplift me.

It’s been a difficult year with challenges that stretched my endurance. Many remain. But, with the love and support of others and my strong faith, I’ve managed. Hope prevails.

You, dear angel, have shown me the true spirit of Christmas. Thank you. And Merry Christmas!


© Copyright 2019 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


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


Help Heather thank our veterans November 7, 2011

A young boy peruses the pavers at the Rice County Veterans Memorial in Faribault on September 11.

SOMETIMES I HEAR SNIPPETS of news that truly touch me.

Take the piece I caught today about 13-year-old Heather Weller of New York Mills. For the past two years, she’s made and collected thank you notes to share with veterans on Veterans Day. She’s engaged classmates, family, friends and even strangers in her “Thank a Veteran” project.

Heather has hand-delivered the thank you notes to the Minnesota Veterans Home in Fergus Falls where her great uncle, Korean War veteran Philip Andrie, lived until his death on Christmas Day 2010.

Now, with only days remaining before Veterans Day on Friday, November 11, Heather put out this plea yesterday on her Facebook page:

I’m feeling sad… I have hardly received any Thank you e-mails yet this year. PLEASE just a quick second to e-mail a thank you! Whats a few seconds compared to years of sacrifices that our Veterans made for us?
It is important to Thank our Veterans all year around but right now I especially work on my e-mail campaign to collect as many Thank yous as possible to take the Veterans Homes for Veterans Day. Please send an e-mail thank you to veteranthankyou@gmail.com or to kristiweller@yahoo.com or leave a message on this page by November 9th. I will take the messages to Veterans Homes on Nov 11th. It so important to remind our Veterans & their families that they are Never forgotten! Thank you!

Will you help by leaving a message on Heather’s Facebook page or e-mailing a thank you note that she will deliver to veterans? Heather would like these messages by Wednesday, November 9.

Click here to go to Heather’s “Thank a Veteran” Facebook page.