Honoring Our Heroes (May 2022)

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Honoring

Our Heroes May 25, 2022

TO THOSE WHO COURAGEOUSLY GAVE THEIR LIVES AND THOSE WHO BRAVELY FIGHT TODAY

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HONORING OUR HEROES

How Memorial Day and Veterans Day differ from each other

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METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION Memorial Day and Veterans Day each honor the military, though the two holidays are not the same. Memorial Day, which is celebrated annually on the last Monday in May, honors the brave men and women who lost their lives while serving in the American military. Many communities host memorial ceremonies honoring their fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, ensuring such soldiers’ bravery and sacrifices are never forgotten. While many people now view Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial start of summer, the weekend should not be celebrated without also pausing to reflect on and recognize the military personnel who lost their lives in defense of freedom and the American way of life. Veterans Day is celebrated annually on Nov. 11 and recognizes all men and women who have served in the military. Veterans Day coincides with Remembrance Day, which is celebrated by the Commonwealth of Nations, an association of 53 member states with connections to the British Empire. Though Veterans Day and Remembrance Day are each celebrated on Nov. 11, the latter recognizes armed forces members who died in the line of duty, making it more similar to Memorial Day than Veterans Day. It’s not uncommon for people to recognize fallen soldiers on Veterans Day, but many use the holiday to express their appreciation to existing veterans.

HONORING ALL WHO SERVE


HONORING OUR HEROES

Flags of Honor

Pay respects at Willmar memorial this holiday weekend WEST CENTRAL TRIBUNE WILLMAR — The Flags of Honor Veterans Memorial on Business 71 in Willmar is dedicated to remembering and honoring Willmar-area soldiers who have since died. The site received an upgrade several years in the making in 2021, which included a brand-new memorial monument with bronze medallions depicting each of the five traditional armed forces.

FLAGS: Page 4

Honoring

Their Sacrifice

Remembering Their Lives

Celebrating Their Memories

On Memorial Day, we pause to honor and remember the brave men and women of our military who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States of America. Their patriotism, courage, sacrifice and immeasurable contribution WWW.WCSTEEL.COM

to our nation will never be forgotten.

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HONORING OUR HEROES

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FLAGS From Page 3

A plaza around the monument comprises nearly 700 pavers inscribed with soldiers’ names, and new lighting and landscaping draw attention to three large flag poles flying the American, state and POW flags. Eight stone memorial benches surround a granite monolith in the center of the plaza. The stone is carved with the likeness of the American flag and on each side there is a plaque representing one of the five traditional armed forces — Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard. While the initial design called for the number of flagpoles to be reduced to 50, after viewing the the monument from above, thanks to a drone, the decision was made to keep all of the original poles, which fly casket flags from area military families on special days, as the poles seem to embrace the monument. The flags will be flown beginning Memorial Day weekend. The project to revamp the memorial began in 2018, when the Veterans Central Council asked the City Council for permission to raise money for the updates to the site. The project was paid for entirely through donations and the sales of the inscribed stone pavers. The site was unveiled in its new form on Sept. 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, World Trade Center and Pentagon. For more information, or to purchase a paver, visit the Flags of Honor Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WillmarFlagsofHonor

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HONORING OUR HEROES

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50 years ago: Vietnam protesters recall fight against ‘never-ending war’ BY BRIAN AROLA, THE FREE PRESS, MANKATO, MINN.

MANKATO — Nearly 50 years to the day since anti-war demonstrators shut down access points to Mankato, Bruce Carlson remembers what it felt like to get maced. “It burned my eyes, and some friends of mine took me down to the river and washed my eyes out,” he said. “I was wearing glasses at the time so I didn’t get a real bad dose of it, but it was enough to get me off the highway.” Carlson, a 22-year-old college student at what was then called Mankato State, was among an estimated 3,000-strong crowd marching from campus to the downtown area to show their dissatisfaction with the Vietnam War on May 9, 1972. Demonstrators occupied the Main Street and North Star bridges, along with Highway 169 in North Mankato before law enforcement officers used tear gas to clear the thoroughfares. Anti-war activism was commonplace

on campus in the years leading up to May 9, but the march and street occupations reached a scale unseen in Mankato protests before and since. “By 1972 there were a lot of people involved and coming together,” Carlson said. “It was quite a movement. You felt the momentum. It felt like we were going to change the world.” A day earlier, President Richard Nixon had ordered the mining of North Vietnamese harbors. To Americans opposed to the conflict, it was the latest escalation in what seemed like a neverending war. Activists quickly mobilized after Nixon’s announcement, descending on the student union to plan the next day’s march. Many students slept in the union overnight before heading out the next day to occupy the bridges and highway. Howard and Mary Ward were students at the time and recall a group gathering on the college’s upper campus. The couple didn’t consider themselves active in the anti-war movement, but they were sympathetic to the cause and marched down to the intersection of

Front and Main streets. He was 23 at the time and had just gotten out of the Army in 1971. His military service didn’t include deployment to Vietnam, but he knew people who had been killed and wounded in action. “I for one was certainly not protesting against the soldiers who served over there; I think it was honorable they answered the call and I myself had spent two years in the Army at the time,” he said. “I was protesting the fact it was a never-ending war and no one could tell us really why we were fighting.” Mary Ward was 21 and studying in the nursing program. She remembers the “massive group” they joined on the march, eventually sitting down alongside Howard to listen to speakers at Front and Main streets. They weren’t on the bridges at the time. Word had passed through the crowd about the shutdown, however, and Howard Ward described the demonstrations as a way for young people to let out anger against a senseless war.

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Day after day people were seeing news reports about U.S. soldiers and dying, Mary Ward said. As long as the war continued there were fears that more men would face the draft. “When you start hearing that every single day and you know your friends are getting drafted, I think it did hit you,” she said. Carlson was of draft age at the time. The main reason he got involved in anti-war activism was his staunch belief against U.S. involvement in the war.

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VIETNAM From Page 6

“I wanted to do whatever I could to help end the war,” he said. Marchers started heading toward downtown around 1 p.m. and planned to occupy the planned areas until 6 p.m. By 3 p.m., State Patrol troopers brought in college President James Nickerson to call off the students. Nickerson pleaded with the students to leave before police forcibly removed them, according to an account written by David Phelps in the book “Out of Chaos.” Phelps was the editor at the Reporter student newspaper in 1972. After reaching a police-imposed deadline around 5:20 p.m., law enforcement deployed fake tear gas before resorting to actual tear gas. Some demonstrators, including Carlson, dispersed, while others responded by throwing cans and rocks. Traffic resumed and the students marched back up toward campus. The Wards didn’t recall when exactly they left the scene, but they knew they weren’t near the clashes. Despite being maced, Carlson said he felt law enforcement handled the demonstration fairly well. There were reported injuries among demonstrators, but nothing approaching the 1970 incidents at Kent State, where National Guardsmen killed four student protesters, or Jackson State, where police killed two student protesters. Even with the killings on other campuses and many bomb threats on Mankato’s campus during those years, the former students said they don’t remember feeling fearful at the time. If anything, Carlson said the Kent State and Jackson State incidents made him more determined to do his part to bring the war to an end. With fewer routes to get in and out of Mankato back then, the road shutdowns did cause frustration among motorists. The Reporter’s coverage of

the demonstration included information about one motorist breaking a man’s leg by driving through the crowd. As Mary Ward looked back on the day, she wondered whether stopping traffic on the bridges was an effective way to get the message out. Another student at the time, Lucian Smith, is quoted in the Reporter as telling the demonstrators “you’re pissing off the wrong people.” A Vietnam veteran, he went on to say he didn’t favor Nixon’s policies, but opposed how the marchers were targeting their message toward people who had no control over the policies. “They have nothing to say, just like you have nothing to say, about the war policy,” he was quoted as saying in the Reporter’s May 10, 1972 edition. Once activists regrouped back on campus, they organized a silent march for May 10 as a contrast to May 9’s chaos. About 5,000 students marched through downtown in silence, “almost like a funeral march,” student organizer Scott Hagebak told the Free Press in 2012. Hagebak and fellow student organizer Mark Halverson said both demonstrations held equal meaning to them — they’ve both since passed away. Only one of the demonstrations, the May 9 shutdowns, garnered national media attention. The U.S. ended its direct involvement in Vietnam about nine months later in January 1973, eight years after it entered the war. Reflecting on what that day and era were like, Carlson described it as a time of turmoil for Mankato and the country. Yet it was satisfying to be part of it, he said, because the demonstrators were standing up for what they believed in. “I felt like it was a noble cause and needed doing,” he said. “I thought it was an immoral war.” (c)2022 The Free Press (Mankato, Minn.) Visit The Free Press (Mankato, Minn.) at www.mankatofreepress.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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About the Vietnam War

BY METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION

The Vietnam War is among the most complex conflicts in world history. The war ended in 1975 when South Vietnam surrendered to North Vietnam, but the effects of the conflict continue to reverberate today, nearly half a century later. In March 1965, American President Lyndon Johnson made the decision to send U.S. combat forces into battle in Vietnam. Ultimately more than 2.5 million American troops would serve in South Vietnam alone. Since President Barack Obama signed a proclamation in 2012, Americans have commemorated the sacrifices its military personnel made during the war by celebrating Vietnam Veterans Day on March 29 (the holiday would be signed into law in 2017). One way to let Vietnam veterans know those sacrifices have not been forgotten is to learn about the war. Such knowledge can inspire a greater appreciation of the cost of the war on the service members who fought it. • Though President Johnson ordered combat troops into Vietnam in 1965, the conflict between North and South Vietnam began much earlier than that. North Vietnamese fighters began helping South Vietnamese rebels in 1954, marking a start to the conflict. • American involvement in combat began even before President Johnson sent troops to Vietnam in 1965. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. combat involvement is now recognized to have begun on January 12, 1962, which marks the launch of Operation Chopper. That operation required U.S. Army pilots to airlift more than 1,000 South Vietnamese soldiers to an area west of Saigon to capture a territory that was being held by communist fighters. • More than 58,000 American military personnel lost their lives as a result of the Vietnam War. • Since 1973, the remains of more than 1,000 Americans killed during the Vietnam War have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors. • Data from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency indicates that, as of May 2022, 1,584 Americans lost in the Vietnam War remain unaccounted for. The vast majority of unaccounted military personnel were lost in Vietnam, though hundreds were lost while serving in Laos, Cambodia and China. • The number of U.S. troops in Vietnam peaked in April 1969. By that point, the U.S. government had deployed 543,000 troops to Vietnam. • The last American ground troops left Vietnam on March 29, 1973. Fighting between the North and South Vietnamese would continue for two more years, but the United Sates would not return to Vietnam.

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Honoring And Saluting our Heroes

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Remembering the men and women who sacrificed so much for our nation on this Memorial Day

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