Click here to see the news article listing all of the flag honoree names

Memorial Day service touches emotions of many

LeMars Daily Sentinel
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
By Beverly Van Buskirk

With the final notes of "Taps" hanging in the cool morning air, a soldier salutes the colors at the Le Mars Memorial Day Ceremony, honoring the memory of those that have also served our nation.
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Sunshine broke through the clouds Monday morning as the names of 1,023 veterans whose flags are displayed at the Avenue of Flags were read at the Le Mars Memorial Day service at the Plymouth County Courthouse. Thirty-eight new flags were presented during the service bringing the total flags in the Avenue of Flags to 1,061.

Those remembered with new flags presented by family members are John "Burt" Anderson, Robert L. Anderson, John D. Billings, Donald Bohlken, Robert D. Bridgford, John L. Conover, Garry Dirks, Francis D. Donlin, W. Burton Dull, James V. Feller, Lawrence J. Feller, Leo J. Freking, Ronald R. Geiger, Edna Groetken, Loren W. Hanno, Lawrence Jenkins, Leonard Klemme, Marvin Kolbeck, Marvin Kots, Richard Laughton, Mark John Meis, George Milbrodt, Larry Miller, Jerry Nelson, Elmer Nemmers, Cyril A. Ortmann, George A. Pavlik, Robert Pratt, Randall R. Renken, Charles D. Rieke, Al Schenkelberg, Orville Schuster, Daniel L. Sesker, John Trobaugh, George F. Vander Tuig, Edward H. Wilhelmi, Robert W. Williams Sr. and John L. Winterringer.

The 38 flags exceeded any other year's presentation, according to Tom Baack, Adjutant for Wasmer Post #241. Past year's presentations were, 1998 - 18; 1999 - 18; 2000 - 22; 2001 - 23; 2002 - 27; 2003 - 34; 2004 - 28; 2005 - 29 and 2006 - 26.

American Legion member Patrick Murphy read the list of names, accompanied by music from the Le Mars Municipal Band.

Six Legionnaires were recognized for achieving 60 years of continuous membership in the American Legion. Attending Monday's ceremony were Donald Hunstad, Kenneth Lubben and Donald Rollinger. Unable to attend were Richard Hentges and Robert Roseberry. The certificate for Mark Meis, who died April 23, 2007, was presented to his family prior to his funeral.

Remembrances from "What I'll Be Doing for Memorial Day" by Vietnam veteran James E. Leiker were read from 12 local Vietnam era veterans.

"It was an emotional project for our readers," said Tom Baack, one of the readers. The others were Wayne Thieman, Larry Baer, Wayne Schipper, George Engebretson, Larry Ruchti, Bob Gengler, Earl Draayer, Bob Helwig, Rocky Bunjes, Terry Durr and Tom Fischer. Patricia Bottjen assisted the group with background music and editing.

The resulting recording put feelings with words and defined Memorial Day, according to Baack.

Merrill dedicates new Veteran's Memorial

LeMars Daily Sentinel
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
By Earl Horlyk

The American Legion Oleson-Halweg Post 125 dedicated a new Veterna's Memorial in Merrill Monday morning. Nearly 300 names of Merrill's veterans are etched onto the three granite tablets that make up the monument.
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Kathy Sponder came to see the name of her father, Leonard Schultz, etched permanently into the granite tablet.

She then saw the names of two of her uncles and, then, her grandfather.

"It's really touching," Sponder said, "that all of their names are right next to each other."

Sponder, a Merrill native now living in Le Mars, was one of the many who came to see the American Legion Oleson-Halweg Post 125 dedicate a new Veteran's Memorial in Merrill on Memorial Day.

The stately design featured three granite tablets, about 2,400 pounds each, bearing the names of Merrill's veterans of all wars, nearly 300 in total.

The slabs are Carnelian granite, quarried in northeast South Dakota.

"We wanted granite from the U.S.," said Rich Husman, commander of the Legion Oleson-Halweg Post. "All the veterans defended the country, so we should the granite should be homegrown."

Overcast skies Monday created a somber mood as a total of 210 flags honoring the deceased veterans, Merrill's contribution in the fight for Liberty, blew gently in the wind.

Guest speakers from each of the four main branches of the military, Capt. Andrew Husman representing the U.S. Marines, Post 125's adjutant Doug Prewitt, representing the U.S. Navy, Command Sergeant Dean Kolker, representing the U.S. Army, and Senior Master Sergeant Mark Wankum, representing the U.S. Air Force, addressed those in attendance. The program included the traditions of a gun salute and the wail of "Taps" being played in the background.

Oleson-Halweg Post 125's Bruce Norgaard said this year's Memorial Day ceremony was the largest Merrill had ever seen.

"Certainly, the dedication of the memorial had a lot to do with it," he explained. "But to see 300 to 400 people come from miles away to visit a small town like Merrill is really a sight to see."

"They wanted to remember their family members and their friends," Norgaard continued. "They wanted to remember our veterans."

As Kathy Sponder stopped to take in the grandeur of the memorial, she remarked to her husband Larry: "This is something really special."

"For a town like this to have something like this," Sponder said softly. "This is really something special."




~If you have any other 2007 year photos or stories, please share by emailing the county coordinator.