The activities of our office have increased as the weather turns colder. Several key events occurred recently that contributed to the increase. First was our open house and ribbon cutting for the remodeled claims office at the St. Paul Claims Office in the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building. The renovations were long awaited and the open house was well attended. The new facilities will enable our staff to serve Veterans more effectively. I also thank the leadership at the Whipple Building for their support during the extensive remodeling period. I am proud of the partnership our agency has with the Federal VA staff. Another event was the groundbreaking for a new State Veterans Cemetery in Southeastern Minnesota. The 169-acre site was donated by Fillmore County and is located just off Highway 52 in Preston, Minn. Often burial is the only benefit Veterans claim and we are pleased to expand burial service to Veterans in Southeastern Minnesota.
Our 2013 State of Minnesota Veterans Day Program was a huge success, with over 400 people in attendance. Veterans Day activities across the state were well attended too, and I again thank the Veterans Service Organizations for their continuous support in making these events a success. I also attended the Veterans Day event in Farmington. Over a thousand people attended . . . it truly was a community event!
December is now upon us and with it comes the myriad of activities associated with the Holidays! For Veterans, the first event is remembering Pearl Harbor. This day has a special meaning as Minnesota played a historic role during the infamous attack by spotting and destroying a Japanese mini-submarine. The USS Ward and its number three gun crew are cited for firing the first shot the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. The destroyer USS Ward sank the submarine approximately two hours prior to the aerial attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
As a side note: the USS Ward’s No. 3 4 inch 50 caliber gun was installed in 1958, the year of the Minnesota Centennial, as a memorial at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. The men who fired it on 7 December 1941 were members of the Minnesota Naval Reserve.
December is also the month many of us gain those extra pounds! This is due to December being a special month where families and friends gather together to celebrate the holidays. I remember being overseas during Christmas and it was the loneliest time in my lifetime. Family and friends are important and we need to let them know. With that said, I ask that you reach out to those you love and let them know how much they mean to you. After all, isn’t that one of the key reasons we wore the uniform!