Local museum hosts Memorial Day service

Those of us who live in small town America know it “takes a village” to keep the village alive and well. At this year’s Memorial Day at the Museum II, that message came through again, loud and clear.

American Legion Honor Guard member John Jahner as taps are played after the twenty-one gun salute. (Courtesy Photo)
American Legion Honor Guard member John Jahner as taps are played after the twenty-one gun salute. (Courtesy Photo)

It Takes a Village. . .

By BONNIE SMITH
Dakota Buttes Museum
For The Record

Those of us who live in small town America know it “takes a village” to keep the village alive and well. At this year’s Memorial Day at the Museum II, that message came through again, loud and clear.

From tiny children in arms to great-grandparents helped in by family members, from first grade singers to assisting teens, from the Legion Honor Guard to Legion Auxiliary members, and everyone in between, the events and activities of May 30, 2016, were the result of the work and planning of many, many people in the village, and of the support and attendance of many, many others.

Jessica Raasch, ND National Guard journalist and Hettinger native (and the first female military person to serve as the main speaker for Memorial Day) reminds the crowd of the service and sacrifice of those who made it possible to enjoy our freedoms. (Courtesy Photo)
Jessica Raasch, ND National Guard journalist and Hettinger native (and the first female military person to serve as the main speaker for Memorial Day) reminds the crowd of the service and sacrifice of those who made it possible to enjoy our freedoms. (Courtesy Photo)

With an even larger crowd this year, the day- long set of events remembered the fallen who gave their lives in service to our country over many years, and looked forward to the future with some of Hettinger’s own serving in the military now and in the years to come.

Gary Jahner, sound technician, observed: “It’s good to see people coming as families and it’s a great way to practice our patriotism.” Honor Guard member Rod Enerson agreed, saying, “Nice crowd. And a nice facility to have the service in.”

The Johnson-Melary Post #115 traditional Memorial Day service began with some first graders singing “It’s a Grand Old Flag” during the Advancement of the Colors. Led by MC Randy Raasch, the audience then recited the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the National Anthem sung by Amanda Reimer.

Legion Chaplain Richard Wyman led the group in prayer before the Borderline Singers presented the “Armed Forces Musical Salute.” Members of the US Armed Forces were recognized as their branch hymn was sung.

Special recognition was given to veterans of the Viet Nam war and the Korean Conflict, thanking them for their service and welcoming them home.

The Hendricks family, one of whom was Shelly Froelich who placed the wreath of remembrance, was recognized for their seven-year mission of placing the cemetery flags and for their Legion Auxiliary work.

Holly Wyman sang “God Bless America” prior to the introduction of the main speaker, Jessica Raasch, US Army National Guard journalist and the first female member of the military to speak at Memorial Day services here.

Daughter of Randy and Vivian Raasch, Jessica spoke with “gratitude to the people who taught her in school, nurtured her in her faith and who continued to support her on her journey.” She encouraged us to remember that “those who were lost at war have granted us the freedom to sit in this beautiful museum today and reflect on the things we are so grateful for.

“It wasn’t until I completed my training in the army and spent several short missions overseas that I finally understood why I had signed up,” she continued. “There are those who love their families and this country so much they are willing to give their all. So, yes, I do hope you take the time this weekend to sit outside in the sun and laugh with your family. I do hope you take the time to enjoy all the families in town for this weekend’s graduation. But I also hope that you take the time to thank the amazing men and women who gave their lives to give us that freedom.”

“Great program,” observed Francie Berg.

“Randy and Jessica did an awesome job explaining the reason for Memorial Day,” says Honor Guard member John Jahner. “That it’s not for us, but for the ones who have passed.”

Amanda Reimer shared another musical selection after which the Honor Guard performed the traditional 21 gun salute and the playing of taps rang through the misty air outside.

As a special tribute, Richard Wyman was awarded a Quilt of Valor made by Eva Rohr. The handmade, red/white/blue patriotic quilts are given across the country to thousands of service people who are nominated for this honor.

A complimentary dinner with potluck desserts was served to over 150 people by the Dakota Buttes Historical Society/Museum board members and community volunteers. At 12:00 a.m., the Borderline Singers directed by Norman Smith presented a short concert of favorite patriotic songs and spirituals.

At 1:00 pm, Randy Raasch, US Army and Hettinger National Guard Commander, retired, presented the third special program of the five-year DBHS/M commemoration of the World War I Centennial sharing his family’s story of five generations of military service and sacrifice. From two great grandfathers in the Civil War, to two grandfathers in World War I, to his parents in World War II and Viet Nam, to his service, and to two of their children’s military service, the Raasch family story encompasses over 156 years, with accompanying objects, photographs and military paraphernalia.

“They were going to be thrown out,” says Randy, telling the story of how he saved the box of hidden military treasures from the trash when, as a young boy, he convinced his grandmother that he really wanted it.

In the question and answer period that followed, shortened by the thunder burst storm that passed through, he shared some Afghan experiences of his unit’s work with village children. “The kids made our time there tolerable,” he says. “If the children came running out to greet us and wanted to play, we knew the Taliban was not in the village. If no kids ran out when we entered, we knew they were there.”

It takes a village, whether here or in far-off Afghanistan, or any place in the world, to raise a child, and to create a safe, meaningful place in which to live and work.

The American Legion Johnson/Melary Post #115 and the Dakota Buttes Historical Society/Museum (DBHS/M) members and board thank all who supported Memorial Day at the Museum II this year. It took a village.