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Perham VFW leads observance

VFW Commander George Rux officiated at the Memorial Day service, which was held Monday, at the Prairie Wind Middle School gymnasium.

The Perham VFW Post 4020 and its Women’s Auxiliary, with help from local Boy Scout Troop 321 and American Legion Post 61 and its Auxiliary, put on a Memorial Day service at Prairie Wind Middle School on Monday.

The scouts placed a series of symbolic items on a table next to a casket draped with the American flag. Each item was representative of veterans’ devotion to finding and recovering prisoners of war and those missing in action.

A single red rose, for instance, was meant to remind participants of the lives of each of the missing, and an inverted glass represented their inability to share the evening’s toast.

“Wars are not without their glory, they are not without their heroes,” but there is a high cost, said Mayor Tim Meehl, referring to all veterans, and especially fallen soldiers. “We here living have them to thank. They gave all their tomorrows so we could have our today.  Ask yourself where you would be without the sacrifice made by these men and women.”

VFW members performed a scripted ceremony in which they read the names of local veterans and placed wreaths and flowers near the casket.

Veteran Nicholas Gauwitz was the special guest speaker. Getz joined the Army in 1995 and has been deployed to Kosovo and Iraq during his 17.5 years of service.  He is currently a GI bill manager with the National Guard.

“It is not a day of celebration,” he reminded the crowd of Memorial Day, “it is a day of mourning.”

“We do not celebrate it, we observe it. We celebrate the lives of those who raised their hands and said, ‘I’ll go,’” Gauwitz said.

VFW 4020 members then folded the flag atop the casket while one of the Boy Scouts described how each fold represented a different facet of the country and the armed services.

The service concluded with recognition of each individual branch of the military and a rifle salute, as well as renditions of the Battle Hymn of the Republic and God Bless America, sung by Daidre Klinnert with Russ Bunker backing her up on piano.

Afterward, a Belgian waffle breakfast was held just outside of the service. In its sixth year, the breakfast was sponsored and organized by the Perham Masonic Lodge, and proceeds went to various scholarships as well as the In Their Own Words Veterans Museum.