On Dec. 5, 2015 the Minneapolis Veterans Home was filled with holiday cheer. The day before St. Nicholas Day was one that was buzzing with Veterans young and old teeming to decorate the 3rd floor common areas and hallways with some seasonal décor. Residents of the Home came into the halls to see what the noise was and found 12 strapping young Veterans, arms filled with boxes, who had come to volunteer their time to these Residents that would be spending their holidays staying at the Home.
The University of St. Thomas’ Veterans Club had come to visit and got started immediately by unraveling garland across the ceiling and around the welcome desks, gift wrapping picture frames and topping them with bows, spreading lights around Christmas trees and, most importantly, talking Veteran to Veteran with the Residents of the Minneapolis Home.
Transforming the Home into a holiday environment was, at first, very cosmetic, but soon the halls were alive with chatter as Residents lent a hand to decorate or give advice on hanging lights and the seasonal spirit awoke. Everyone involved started to feel good and thankful: the Residents for the volunteers and the volunteers for the Residents.
This Veterans Day, was an especially memorable for the families of Earl Hoff and Clarence Quanrud. Two Minnesota Veterans that both served in the Korean War, and as mayor of Preston, Minnesota where this Veterans Day they became the first Veterans laid to rest in Preston’s newly-opened State Veterans cemetery.
The official State of Minnesota Veterans Day celebration, held at the Veteran Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights on the 11th of November was attended by many Veterans from across the state and representing a wide varieties of conflicts.
One group in particular stood out as two older Marines walked into the Center wearing ice-blue jackets that read, “The Chosin Few.” Being a Marine myself, knowing the history of the Marine Corps’ battles; what happened in Korea, especially in the Chosin Reservoir, made this sight an awe-inspiring experience. I didn’t want to immediately bombard them with conversation, so I held back while they helped themselves to the breakfast buffet and made their way to their seats.
On Friday, Oct. 2, CommonBond Communities held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their new Upper Post affordable-housing community for homeless Veterans at Fort Snelling. Five historic structures were transformed into 58 units of affordable housing. This new housing opportunity features studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments along with support services for homeless Veterans and their families.
The ceremony included remarks from Deidre Schmidt, President and CEO of CommonBond Communities, Mary Tingerthal, Commissioner of Minnesota Housing, Warren Hanson, President and CEO of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund/MN Equity Fund, Tom Wiffler, COO of UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans, Dave St. Peter, President of the Minnesota Twins, Patrick Kelly, Executive Director of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, U.S. Representative Erik Paulsen, and Residents and Veterans Austin Poons and Judy Ganino.
July was an active month beginning with Honoring Veteran Day at Target Field. As guests of the Minnesota Twins, the nine Veteran Service Organizations in Minnesota were asked to have their leadership occupy the various positions on the field. With the bases covered, the sidelines were filled with military re-enactors in full wool uniforms, currently serving military and the National Guard unfolding the American flag for the national anthem. To top it off, a flyover by World War II era planes brought the stadium to its feet. It was an environment that excited all. One could sense the pride of all the Veterans assembled, whether they were on the field or in the stands. I personally want to thank the Minnesota Twins organization for their inclusion of our Veterans as a part of their Fourth of July celebration, and in particular honoring the Veterans who served this great country.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Patrick Loch, Minnesota National Guard.
Photo by Tech Sgt. Paul Santikko.