American Legion Post, Veterans Honor Community at Memorial Hall | News, Sports, Jobs
Residents of the Pierce County area joined military veterans and Rugby members Clarence Larson American Legion Post 23 for a special Veterans Day ceremony at Memorial Hall on November 11.
Dave Trottier of radio station KZZJ broadcast the ceremony live. Members of the audience nodded for an invocation from Postal Chaplain Josh Siegler.
Post Commander Kirk Seaver addressed the crowd gathered in the hall’s gymnasium. “One thing that I have come to appreciate from year to year is the incredible and indestructible bond we have with the veterans of this community. I would also like to add the link that exists between the community and the veterans ”, Seaver said.
Seaver introduced nine guests of honor, each a veteran of a military conflict or a member of a veteran support organization. The winners, who were seated on stage during the ceremony, were Gabriel Scheet of World War II; Ray Norsby, Korean War; Mike Christenson, Vietnam War; Dave Engelend, Gulf War; Siegler, Operation Iraqi Freedom; John Gustafson, Operation Enduring Freedom; Army National Guard, Kirk Seaver; Son of the American Legion, Ben Kuhnhenn; American Legion Auxiliary Joyce Teigen and Veterans Service Officer Ron Montonye.
Montonye gave an opening speech to the audience.
“I appreciate this opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you on Veterans Day 2021. These thoughts reflect the different hats I wear today. I’m wearing a veteran’s hat. I have worn the hat of a member of the American Legion for 43 years. I wear the hat of your Pierce County Veterans Duty Officer and finally I wear the hat of an American who loves our great country, “ Montonye said to open his remarks.
“Through the publication in 2020 of the North Dakota Military Data Book, I found the following statistics. There are approximately 53,608 veterans in North Dakota. Two hundred and fifty-six of them are residents of Pierce County. Of these North Dakota veterans, 89.2% are men and 10.8% are women ”, said Montonye. “The age range for North Dakota Veterans is: 18-29, 5.9%; 30 to 44, 20 percent. Forty-five to 59 years old: 24.2%. Those aged 60 to 74 are 30.8 percent and for veterans aged 75 and over, 18.9 percent. We have an aging veterans population in North Dakota. Over 50 percent of North Dakota veterans are over the age of 60. “
“Of our North Dakota Veterans, 1.9% are WWII Veterans. We are losing WWII veterans every day. I think I read that out of 16 million American servicemen during WWII, we only have a little over a million left ”, Montonye added.
“Four point nine percent are Korean War veterans; 29.6% are Vietnamese-era veterans; 27.8% are veterans of the World War on Terrorism and 17.2% are classified as veterans of North Dakota who served in peacetime ”, Montonye noted.
Montonye said honoring veterans for their service was “easy at events like this (for Veterans Day) or Memorial Day.”
However, Montonye urged residents of Pierce County to do more than honor veterans only during the holidays.
“As the Pierce County Veterans Service Officer, I believe it is my responsibility and my duty to help all local veterans and their families receive all of the benefits to which they are entitled.” said Montonye. “I am privileged and honored to do this. But as I often say, I can’t do it alone. I also need your help. You may know a veteran, whether it’s a family member, a friend, or just an acquaintance who has not yet applied for VA benefits. If so, I encourage you to invite them to visit me. Our veterans have done their duty. Now, it’s time we did ours too.
Montonye added, “Let us follow their example of selfless and honorable service to our country. “
Staying united in these troubled times is also important to the citizens of Pierce County and the nation, according to Montonye.
“Young people who are here today, look around you” said Montonye. “You will see veterans of all ages. For some, their time on earth is running out, but they feel the need to be here today. There is a message here. The term, “band of brothers“isn’t just a catchy name for a book or miniseries. It’s an everlasting bond.
Montonye cited a scene at the end of the film “Save Private Ryan,” where an elderly Ryan stands in the WWII cemetery in Normandy, France, looking at the gravestone of the army officer who saved his life.
“After greeting, he turns to his wife and says: ‘Just tell me that I have been a good person, that I have lived a good life'” Montonye recounted.
“I believe he realizes that there is no better way to honor those who have sacrificed so much. There is a message here “, Montonye added.
“It reminds us that we must become more empathetic to the needs of all mankind and find ways to bring more glory to honor the kingdom of God here on earth.” Montonye added. “In doing so, I believe our nation can continue to be a beacon and a light of hope for the world.”
After Montonye’s speech, Gustafson presented pins to two Vietnamese-era veterans during the ceremony. Two surviving spouses of Vietnamese-era veterans were given lapel pins in a separate ceremony later.
The Rugby High School Band performed a selection of official songs from each branch of the military. Veterans from each branch stood up as the band performed their song.
Seaver asked participants to bow their heads for a minute of silence to honor deceased, missing or POW service members.
Tillman Hovland, post member and Korean era veteran, solemnly played Taps on his trumpet.
Before the Post’s Color Guard removed the US and Post 23 flags, Seaver thanked several businesses and supporters in the rugby area, including the Kuhnhenn family, who sponsored the annual Darryl Kuhnhenn Memorial Ride for ten years and have donates to the post every year.
Following the ceremony, the Legion Post invited attendees to a roast beef lunch prepared by Stephanie Halvorson of the Balta Bar and Grill.