Words from Wiger: Thank you veterans

MN State Senator Chuck Wiger, District 43

 “Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirt of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” President Dwight Eisenhower


Memorial Day recognizes our veterans for the sacrifices they have made to support our freedom. No group is more deserving of recognition than veterans. 

To put your civilian life on hold for years in order to serve your country is honorable and worthy of public thanks. I am grateful for the service of all veterans. In my immediate family, my father served in WWII and suffered a permanent injury as a result. My daughter Angelina served in Iraq and, after earning her college degree through the GI bill, today works as a social worker at the veterans’ home in Hastings.

Memorial Day has its roots in the first observance of Decoration Day, celebrated May 30, 1868, to commemorate all the fallen soldiers in the Civil War. Historians believe this day was chosen because it did not share an anniversary with any Civil War battles. Others say it was chosen because flowers would be in bloom across the country.

 On Monday, May 28, we will recognize all those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom in America and abroad. We are able to live in a freer country because of the men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting this great nation. That includes hundreds of area residents serving as brave soldiers. Many have died or suffered serious permanent injuries, and some live the remainder of their life in vet homes or hospitals. Volunteer to help out if you can.

Military service changes a person. A member of the Disabled American Veterans group once told me that in some ways, all veterans return to civilian life with scars, visible or invisible. Veterans deserve to have their sacrifices recognized.

 Make sure to take this time to thank and commemorate all of our veterans, past and present, for all they have done to ensure our freedom. Pray for them and their families. 

“Flanders Field” is a poem written on the battlefield in Belgium by Lt. Col. John McCrae during World War I in 1915. Here is probably the most famous Memorial Day poem of all time:


“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”

Lt. Col. John McCrae



On this Memorial Day, wear your red poppies as a symbol for remembrance. Be sure to thank and hug a vet in appreciation. I also want to thank members of the local American Legion and VFW posts, and their auxiliaries, plus the Disabled American Veterans groups and the many dedicated workers at our Veterans Hospitals and nursing homes.

 There are many area Memorial Day ceremonies and events. You can check the American Legion website,  www.mnlegion.org, for a more comprehensive list. Here are some events in our area.



Fort Snelling

Each year, Historic Fort Snelling, 200 Tower Ave., St Paul, offers a weekend full of Memorial Day activities. Visit the stone barracks to learn about U.S. soldiers’ experiences and their contributions to our nation. On Monday, May 28, costumed staff on the Fort’s parade ground will tell the story of our military in a “living timeline” of the past. Fort Snelling is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all weekend.



Union Cemetery will hold its Memorial Day service on May 28, at 10 a.m. next to their office at 2505 Minnehaha Ave., Maplewood.  Please bring a lawn chair.

Last year, Union Cemetery announced that it has erected a Veterans Memorial on the east side of the cemetery. Engraving a veteran’s name on the memorial is $250, and a copy of the honorable discharge paperwork is required.



The Oakdale Veteran’s Committee is not hosting an event this year. However, all are welcome to visit the Oakdale Veterans Memorial in front of City Hall at 1584 Hadley Ave.


North St. Paul

The beautiful North St. Paul Veteran’s Park at located at Margaret Street and Highway 36 invites you to participate in quiet, personal reflection. No public event is planned, but all are welcome to come to the site and remember our veterans.

 Built on the historic site of “Cannon Park,” the Veteran’s Park does a great job of recognizing our veterans. Dozens of community members have purchased pavers to remember family members who served in the military.

 The park is a joint effort of the American Legion Post 39, VFW Post 1350, North High Air Force JROTC, the City of North St. Paul and the people of Minnesota. 

Every day, but particularly on Memorial Day, people stop at the park to pay tribute to our veterans who have supported our freedom. Thank you to the Veterans Park Committee for their vision and ambition to take on this monumental project.


White Bear Lake

The Keep Zimmer VFW Post 1782 is sponsoring a full day of events on May 28. The festivities begin with a parade at 9:30 a.m. that starts at City Hall. At 2 p.m., a memorial ceremony will be held at Veteran Memorial Park.



The American Legion Parade will be held this Memorial Day on May 28 beginning at 9 a.m. The parade starts at Mahtomedi High School and the route follows Stillwater Road to Triangle Park. There will be a ceremony following the parade at the park.

 All veteran, youth groups, business, schools, band groups and residents are welcome to join the parade. No registration is required.

 The Mahtomedi Fire Department Relief Association will host its annual Memorial Day pancake breakfast following the parade. It will take place at the Mahtomedi Fire Hall, 800 Stillwater Road.


Because we love our country and appreciate our veterans, please take the time on Memorial Day to give thanks for our blessings. As President Eisenhower wrote, freedom must be nurtured and tended on a daily basis or it will wither and die.

As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions regarding any issue. I encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you would like me to stop by your home or apartment. I can be reached by email at sen.chuck.wiger@senate.mn, and by phone at 651-296-6820. My cell is 651-770-0283.

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