Many gather to honor vets, commemorate new flag (VIDEO & PHOTOS)

A new flag is waving in the wind at Western Horizons Assisted Living thanks to a generous donation by the family of a former resident.

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor

A new flag is waving in the wind at Western Horizons Assisted Living thanks to a generous donation by the family of a former resident.

The Norma Swenson family—Orval and Renee Swenson, Orven and Deborah Swenson, Karen and Gary Gabrielsson, Twila and Mark Zidon, and Carol Melby—provided funds in her name to erect a new 25-foot flag pole in a landscaped section of the parking lot. Orval and Renee were on hand for the ceremony, with Orval getting the inaugural flag raising duty.

Norma Swenson lived in the center for many years, and the family knew she had an affinity for flags, so it was a great way for them to honor their late mother, and Orval was happy to be a part of the dedication.

“It was very touching, my mom always liked flags, and I think she would have been very pleased to see it flying above Western Horizons [Assisted Living], a place that she called home for many years,” Orval said. “So it was a nice tribute to be able to raise that flag.”

As he raised the flag, the fourth grade class in Hettinger sang a rendition of the national anthem.

The Hettinger Post #115 color guard was also at the ceremony to present the flags.

Following the flag raising, the Veteran’s Day program started inside.

Ted Uecker, who emceed the event, said he was pleasantly surprised at the turnout. It wasn’t advertised much, which shows the power of word-of-mouth. Among the attendees (outside of the vets and their families and facility employees) included retired West River Health Services CEO Jim Long and the new Hettinger United Methodist pastor R. Duane Coates.

Uecker welcomed everyone and thanked them for their presence, then he handed it off to Mayor Richard Wyman, who gave the opening prayer. His wife, Holly, sang a few songs for the crowd throughout the event.

Hettinger resident, and veteran, Richard Raasch was asked to be the event’s guest speaker. He used a jar of gum balls to illustrated just how little of the U.S. population serves and protects this country. He had three hundred pieces of candy, representing the 300 million residents of the United States. He pulled out just three gum balls holding them up high, and said this is the ratio of citizens to soldiers—300 million to 3 million.

Following his speech, and another song from Holly Wyman, Uecker set some time aside in the program to recognize local vets from both the assisted living center and care center.

The following veterans were recognized: Gene Anderson, Kenny Doerr, Wayne Eklund, Alan Kromarek, Vernie Milliren, Durwood Ohm, Clarence Schaible, Albert Weaver, Quentin Oase, Owen Oleson, and Jack Rafferty.

Each vet received a t-shirt and a United States calendar.

Following the veteran recognition, sheet music was handed out to the crowd and everyone participated in a time of song.