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Ranks of World War II soldiers thin with each Memorial Day observance

"As we march on...our ranks grow thinner."

Those words, from a prayer recited by VFW member Larry Kempenich at Memorial Day services, were a bittersweet description of the aging soldiers of the Second World War.

A list of 31 Perham area names was read for the traditional "Memorial Roll Call," each of them veterans who have died over the past 12 months--and most of them World War II veterans. And the list is only a partial record of those in the general East Otter Tail area.

Candles were lit for each fallen comrade, creating a solemn glow that illuminated the room. (List of those veterans appears on page 13 this week.)

With each passing Memorial Day, the ranks of the "Greatest Generation" thin. Thankfully, our collective spirit of remembrance and tribute is not thinning--as was evidenced by the overflow crowd on hand for the ceremonies.

Nearly 200 people, with a couple dozen standing in the back and in the lobby, packed into the "ITOW" Veterans Museum for the Memorial Day ceremonies hosted by the Perham VFW and American Legion Posts and Auxiliaries.

After a call to order and welcome from VFW Commander Ted Wenner, the ceremony featured the traditional presentation of the POW-MIA table. Musical selections were performed by the Perham High School brass quintet; as well as group songs and solos by Ann Dardis, with accompaniment by Russ Bunker.

Perham Mayor Kevin Keil talked some economics in his message, noting that the national debt is now at $9.4 trillion. "Every time you hear someone discussing what something costs, take a moment to reflect on what the true cost of freedom is. And always remember that unlike the national debt or any other monetary costs, the cost paid for freedom by those that pay the ultimate price, unfortunately never goes down.

"It has been said that for a nation to be successful, the Nation must be willing to serve," said guest speaker Captain Aaron Krenz in his message. "Our men and women in the armed forces will remain the centerpiece of our national security. For over 230 years, our Soldiers have followed a Warrior Ethos and system of values central to all that we do. They symbolize the nobility of selfless service and sacrifice, and even loss of their very lives, by those who answer the Call to Duty."

Concluding the ceremony was one of Perham's relatively few remaining World War II veterans, John Knight, delivering the benediction on behalf of those ranks of comrades who are no longer with us.

Area Veterans who have died since Memorial Day 2007:

Name, Date of Death, Cemetery

1. Brodersen, Elmer 06-07-2007 Morningside Gardens, Coon Rapids

2. Rosenow, Norman 06-22-2007 Lakeside, Frazee

3. Schmidt, James 07-02-2007 St. Paul's Lutheran

4. Harthun, George 07-12-2007 Immanuel, Dent

5. Orvik, Cory 07-19-2007 St. Stanislaus

6. Rehbein, James 07-21-2007 Immanuel, Dent

7. Sczygiel, Frank 07-30-2007 St. Stanislaus

8. Norline, Joel 07-30-2007 Ft. Snelling

9. Greenwood, Dennis 08-08-2007 Richville Village

10. Ford, George 10-04-2007 Perham Village

11. Delaney, Joseph 10-08-2007 St. Henry's

12. Sand, Ervin 10-25-2007 St. James, Maine

13. Boedigheimer, Jerome 10-29-2007 St. Henry's

14. Dulski, Edward 11-18-2007 St. Stanislaus

15. Schornack, Joseph 11-20-2007 St. Lawrence

16. Baumgart, Arland 11-26-2007 Perham Village

17. Richter, Michael 12-13-2007 St. Henry's

18. Koelln, Erbin 12-13-2007 Pleasant Hill, Dent

19. Honer, Richard 12-19-2007 Sacred Heart, Dent

20. Laughlin, Richard 01-03-2008 St. Henry's

21. Robinson, George 01-21-2008 Richville Village

22. Walter, George 01-25-2008 St. John's, Corliss

23. Kaatz, Ernest 01-26-2008 St. Stanislaus, Warsaw, ND

24. Baumgart, Lauren 01-29-2008 Cremation

25. Parks, William 02-07-2008 Calvary Memorial

26. Mueller, Virgil 02-24-2008 St. Henry's

27. Minten, Joseph 02-29-2008 Holy Cross, Butler

28. Darco, Daniel 03-09-2008 Pleasant Hill

29. Evenson, Mary 03-21-2008 St. Lawrence

30. Meyer, Norman 04-08-2008 St. Paul's

(Compiled by Schoenberger Funeral Home.)