According to a proclamation signed by Faribault Mayor Kevin Voracek, the first Memorial Day in Faribault was observed on May 30, 1869.

The proclamation goes on to encourage, "all citizens of Faribault to proudly join the Rice County Central Veterans Association in observance of this day to honor all veterans, who gave all."

"Now, therefore be it resolved, we urge all citizens to participate in all community activities, and display the flag of this great nation, on your homes, and graves of departed loved ones."

The mayor's proclamation declares, "Monday, May 29, 2017, to be Memorial Day in The City of Flying Flags."

I am once again honored to be asked to be the Master of Ceremonies for the program in Central Park and hope to see the park packed with people.

The Rice County Central Veterans Association this year has chosen three veterans to be honored: the Grand Marshal for the parade is Bob Rinde, the Honorary Grand Marshal is Elmo Wisted, the Honored Combat Veteran is Larry Kokoschke.

Kokoschke joined Central Vets Association President John McDonough on our AM Minnesota program last Thursday to give us details about Monday's observances in Faribault.

Kokoschke told us his philosophy over the years has been, "what went on in Vietnam stays in Vietnam." He was unsure about being a Memorial Day speaker because, "Vietnam is hard to talk about."

Kokoschke grew up in North Morristown and graduated from high school in 1961.

He was drafted in 1965 and took Army basic training in Missouri before being assigned to  special troops training to Louisiana.

Kokoschke told us when he arrived in Vietnam it was "quite an eye opening" experience. He was assigned to unload supplies off ships and said he, "grew up in a hurry."

A helicopter would fly supplies from the ship to base camps in the country and Kokoschke was asked if he wanted to do be a door gunner on the helicopter when one of the men was shipped back home. He said he would and that's where the combat occurred.

He didn't elaborate and I didn't ask for more information because I could tell this was an emotional topic for Larry.

He did say he arrived in Vietnam, "a young man and came back well educated."

Not everything was bad there, he said, recalling a Christmas with a South Vietnamese captain and his family. Their entire home was about "12-feet-by-14-feet" and he couldn't get over how happy they were there. The captain had 3- and 5-year-old girls and every meal they ate rice.

Kokoschke said "discipline" was one of the benefits of being involved in the U.S. Army and he also learned to "appreciate my freedom." He has been a 51-year member of the Morristown American Legion and VFW organizations and told KDHL AM Minnesota listeners Morristown welcomed him back home.

Many were not welcomed into their communities when returning.

Honorary Grand Marshal Elmo Wisted is a World War II veteran and joined the Army after graduating from high school in North Dakota in 1945.

Wisted served two years before going to college on the GI Bill and became a pharmacist. While in college he joined the R.O.T.C. and became a 2nd Lieutenant then spent five years in the reserves.

The past Faribault American Legion Commander is proud of the time he served on the Executive Board when the Legion moved from their former location on Central Avenue to their present location, the former roller rink.

Wisted has six brothers and five served in three wars: WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

Bob Rinde, 94, is the Grand Marshal for Faribault Memorial Day observances this year.

Born in Faribault, after joining the Army he was stationed in the South Pacific and was discharged in 1945 in California. He and his wife stayed there and both became teachers. They had no children and during the summers would travel the world.

Bob taught Industrial Arts. After his wife passed away he moved back to Faribault. Not too long ago he went on an Honor Flight to see the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The schedule for Memorial Day observances in Faribault go like this:

  • 9AM: Flag Raising Ceremony at Veterans Memorial on Rice County Courthouse grounds.
  • 10AM: Memorial Day Parade starts at Buckham Library and proceeds north on Central Avenue to Sixth Street then west to Central Park.
  • About 15 minutes after the parade, the special program takes place at the Central Park band shell.

Shieldsville has a parade at 1PM followed by a program at the St. Patrick Cemetery at 1:45PM.

The Morristown Memorial Day Parade starts at the school at 10:30AM and then goes to the local cemetery.

A program will begin at 11AM. After the program, the Auxiliary serves a lunch at the Morristown American Legion for a nominal fee.

The Memorial Day Parade in Kenyon starts at 10:30AM at Super America and heads east to the Kenyon Cemetery.

The Honorary Marshal for the parade is Richard Westphal and Kenyon Veterans Color Guard Commander Mike McDonald will be the keynote speaker.

Memorial Day observances in Cannon Falls include:

  • 7-9AM: Breakfast for all local veterans and parade participants, regardless of whether they are members of a veterans organization.
  • Parade starts 10:30AM on Second Street by Merchants Bank and goes south to Park Street, right on Park to Fourth Street, north to Mill Street, east on Mill Street to First Street North, then Highway 19 to the city cemetery.
  • Program begins at 11AM with Rod Johnson, Master of Ceremonies.
  • Featured speaker is Rod's son, Lt. Col. Jesse Johnson.
  • There will be special readings by 2016 American Legion Boys State Delegate Grant Otte, 2016 VFW Post 4452 Voice of Democracy winner Kayley Felix and 2016 American Legion Girls State Delegate Jenna Kremers.
  • Cannon Falls High School band directed by Mike Legvold will provide music

Cannon City Cemetery Association Secretary Mel Sanborn was also on AM Minnesota on Thursday to talk about a special program being held Monday afternoon commemorating the cemetery's sesquicentennial.

The Cannon City Cemetery was started in 1867 and the three-acre area contains the final resting places for 52 veterans, 23 from the Civil War. The earliest war veteran in the cemetery is from the War of 1812.

The special program is at 2PM at the Cannon City Cemetery and features a number of musical selections and some readings by volunteers.

Sanborn told KDHL AM Minnesota listeners the first observance of Memorial Day at the Cannon City Cemetery took place in 1910 when a teacher at the school was approached by a Civil War veteran requesting the school have a program there. It occurred every year until the school closed in 1970 and then the cemetery association picked up the organization of the program.

Mel Sanborn Cannon City Cemetery Association Secretary- photo from KDHL AM Minnesota
Mel Sanborn Cannon City Cemetery Association Secretary- photo from KDHL AM Minnesota

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