Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Memorial Day Speech

The following is the speech given by Major John Meyer, USAF, retired, at the Northwood Memorial Day services on Monday, May 28, 2012.  The speech sings of the sacrifices of a few, and the community of us all.  We thank him for sharing this with us.

Memorial Day - 2012 

Friends, neighbors, fellow veterans it is a privilege to gather here in freedom to honor those who have given so much in service to our great nation. The freedom we enjoy is continually being purchased for us at an enormous price. Today thousands of our men and women are engaged in war to ensure that you and I can continue to enjoy freedom.

It is never over. Missions may end but the legacies left and the pain of their absence endures.

It is never over. The pain of the absence of our brave young men and women endures. I felt everyone knew Lt. Col. John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields.” It has been called the most memorable war poem ever written. My 6th grade teacher read it to us. When I talked about it on Saturday I found out that not everyone knows it and decided to add it to my talk today.

Lt. Col McCrae wrote this poem on the battlefield in Belgium in 1915. Although he had been a doctor for years it was impossible to get used to the suffering, the screams, and the blood here and Col McCrae had seen and heard enough in his dressing station to last him a lifetime.

One death particularly affected McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lt. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell burst on 2 May 1915. Lt. Helmer was buried later that day in the little cemetery outside McCrae’s dressing station and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.

In the nearby cemetery, McCrae could see the wild poppies that sprang up in the ditches in that part of Europe and he spent 20 minutes of precious rest time scribbling 15 lines of verse in a notebook.

IN FLANDERS fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses row on row 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the Dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders Fields 

By the time our last remaining combat troops returned from Iraq in December 2011, nearly 4,500 of their comrades lost their lives during Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.

We continue to lose American heroes every day in Afghanistan and in military training accidents and missions around the world. The loss to their families, friends, fellow service members and country is permanent.

Some were only teenagers and most of those killed were under age 25. In the eyes of their loved ones, they are forever young.

Today Marvin Everhart is placing a wreath in memory of his cousin Donald McNamara, a Marine Corporal who was killed in action in Vietnam. He is the only Vietnam veteran killed in action with Northwood, IA listed as his home of record.

Donald McNamara was a student at Northwood/Kensett when he enlisted in the Marines in March 1964. He has been described by those who served with him as: a very good man, a “hardcore Marine’s Marine,” he was compassionate, a leader who never let a squad member get into a situation over his head, a happy guy, and a good friend.

He was killed in action on July 21, 1967 when his unit was ambushed on patrol and a 6 hour firefight ensued. During the action he manned an M-60 while his squad would advance and fall back.

Marvin Everhart was serving in the Army in Vietnam at that time and accompanied the body home to Albert Lea where Donald’s parents were living at the time. Northwood was thus bypassed in providing recognition for his sacrifice.

Remembering our fallen once a year is not enough. The widows, widowers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children remember EVERYDAY.

The empty seat at the dinner table, the smaller gathering on Thanksgiving, and the voice of a loved one heard only as a distant memory are constant reminders that they are gone.

There are also other people like us who can enjoy time with their families because of the sacrifices that others have made.

Scripture tells us that “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

From the American Revolution to the Global War on Terrorism, one million American men and women like Corporal McNamara have made the Supreme Sacrifice. They died so that we could continue to cherish the things we loved - - - God, country and family.

That is why we are gathered here on Memorial Day…to honor the memory of our fallen warriors who have given everything for their country.

We are also reminded on this day that in each generation, brave men and women will always step forward to take the oath of allegiance as members of America’s armed forces, willing to fight and if necessary die for the sake of freedom.

In reflecting on the sacrifices of their comrades during World War I, the founders of the American Legion saw four common pillars or reasons as to why Americans so often in the past and still to this day answer their nation’s call – even to the point of sacrificing their lives.

They do it to provide a strong national defense --- to keep America safe and secure against those enemies who would destroy our American way of life.

They do it for their fellow comrades --- for those fighting by their side against all odds and for those who eventually separate from the military but proudly claim their status as veterans.

They do it for American core values of God and country --- family, patriotism and our religious heritage.

They do it for their children… so that they can grow up in an America that is strong and free.

It is through this last pillar – children – that we can continue the spirit of Memorial Day each and every day.

More than 6,400 American men and women have died in Afghanistan and Iraq in the latest wars. Many were parents.

The innocence of their grieving children will be challenged by the dramatic change affecting their security and comfort in the family routine. Their hearts will feel the sharp sting of their loss, leaving them only with memories of their loving mom or dad. Life as they have known it will be much harder from now on.

There are many tangible things we can do to honor the service of our fallen heroes. First and foremost is to take care of their families. In some cases this means providing financial assistance to help their children obtain higher education. The American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Veterans Administration all offer assistance.

We honor the living comrades of the fallen – the wounded, injured and ill members of our Armed Forces through various programs. Often times these veterans are surprised that so many want to help them. We don’t do this because of any requirements. We do it because we want to. It is simply the right thing to do.

Memorial Day is not about picnics and parades – although there is nothing wrong with enjoying and celebrating our American way of life. Memorial Day is really about remembering those who made our way of life possible.

May God bless our fallen heroes and may God bless you for being here today to remember them. Thank You.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Children of the Greatest Generation

I ran into Chuck and Janis (Jones) Hendrickson at the Memorial Day services in Northwood.  Chuck is recovering well from his illness and is looking very healthy.  He and Janis were all smiles during the day.  The next day Janis responded to an email about the service and happened to mention her Dad, Charlie, having served in WW II.  I had just heard that he had been a POW, so I asked Janis to confirm that, which she did.

Correct. Dad was in the National Guard. He was captured by the Germans in North Africa and was a POW in Poland for 27 months. He wrote a book of his war experiences in the late 80’s. My brother went to Poland and retraced Dad’s steps, seeing where he was actually imprisoned. How I would have loved to have gone with him!! Before Dad’s health began to decline he did lots of public speaking on his experiences and especially enjoyed being invited to tell his story to high school history classes.

I’m in the process of reading 4 years of letters back and forth between my dad and mom…and my dad and his parents – all of them during the war. Spellbinding. My dad was a gifted writer – they read like a novel.

Charlie owned the theater in Northwood for a number of years and may have been best known for his work as a public address announcer and emcee, for the church league softball in what is now Swensrud Park, and at high school football games.  I asked Janis if she could share some of his story with us, and she submitted the following.

My father, Charlie Jones, was a member of the 34th Red Bull Division of the U.S. Army and its 168th infantry in WWII. He was fighting the Germans in North Africa, when he, along with many other members of the nearly decimated 168th, was forced to surrender on Feb. 17. 1943. He became a Prisoner of War for 27 months. He was liberated on May 21, 1945 and was honorably discharged as Captain in February 1946. 
Official POW photo and snapshot on a Memorial Day mid-90s
at Sunset Rest Cemetery - original Army uniform

Dad was interned most of his time at Oflag 64, famous for holding General Patton’s son-in-law, John K. Waters. It was a small camp at Schubin, Poland. On capture there were only about 150 American officers in the 10-acre compound. By the time Oflag 64 was evacuated in January 1945, the roll call had reached 1,400. 

Dad was engaged to my mother during his imprisonment. Letters back and forth between the two of them were heartfelt and were lifelines for them both, especially my father. Our family recently came across these spellbinding letters which read like a novel.

The Red Cross and the YMCA were paramount in the well-being of the POWs. Through these two organizations, the prisoners were furnished reading material, musical instruments and sheet music, as well as food care packages to supplement the watered-down soup and stale bread provided by the Germans.

The prisoners amazingly organized their camp, setting up areas of administration, recreation and education, training and supply sections. Dad first served as company clerk, then was later moved to be in charge of phonograph music. He kept himself busy with the activities made available: a library, a theatre of sorts, lectures, recitals, plays, concerts and many types of school classes on almost any subject imaginable. Dad kept a log of all the books he read during his captivity and, if memory serves me correctly, it was around 1,000. He loved the classics of literature, philosophy, and religion but found the most peace in books of poetry.

The POWs could make most anything out of nothing. Our family had many mementoes Dad made including a toothbrush implemented from wood attached to many threads (better at mopping the teeth than actually brushing), and eating utensils he had whittled out of a few pieces of scrap wood. There was also a hand-woven coin purse he’d made from threads he’d acquired from scrap fabric with a closure button made from a prune pit in which he’d carved the letter “M” for Myrtle, my mother. His hands were busy for many months embroidering a large tablecloth my mother sent to him, which later graced our family dining table for every holiday. Many items have been donated to the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum in Johnston, Iowa.

While imprisoned, Dad was a member of a 17 man chorus. We’ve heard their actual recordings attained through the archives, and were thrilled to hear Dad’s name announced as a Bass member of the group. He also participated in many stage plays during his time at the camp.

My father kept a diary…Following are several excerpts:

December 31, 1944: As the year closes, I can look back and be thankful for many things. Health has stayed about fair level. I haven’t been too cold, having managed to keep from being too hungry, have had food from home and comparatively frequent assurance from home that my loved ones are well and still waiting for me and loving me. May God continue to bless Myrtle, Mom and Dad and family. And may I be worthy of continued blessings as much as the past. With hope and prayer for the future, it’s good bye to 1944.

The following entry was written after the Germans had marched the POWs over a period of months in the bitter winter weather to new locations to avoid the Russians, who were approaching and trying to liberate the POWs.

March 7, 1945 Been getting gradually weaker on a diet of bread and pea soup and ersatz tea. Sleeping on a handful of wet straw on 8 bed boards. Too cold to take off any clothes so I’ve had mine on since January 20th, save for one de-lousing. Skinny and weak as a cat.

Why was my father a survivor? First of all, he was an officer. He was not forced to work long hours on the Germans’ behalf. Second, the luck of the draw took him to camps with generally more humane leadership from the Germans than existed in other camps. In addition, he kept himself as busy as possible in the activities the camp had to offer, as well as his own handiwork, embroidery, etc. His values and growing religious beliefs were also clearly a factor. But above all else, Dad had something that kept him focused on the future: the woman he loved, her letters and pictures, and his faith that she would be there for him when he arrived home. And she was. The long wait was over. They were married 3 weeks after he arrived home on American soil, granting them 54 years together. Dad passed away September 10, 1999 at the age of 86.

Unlike many WWII veterans who chose not to discuss their time at war, my dad was always very verbal to his children about his experiences. I remember sobbing one evening when Dad sat all 5 of his children down to talk about what life was like for him as a POW. I couldn’t bear the fact that my father had endured such hardship. That was a child’s reaction. As an adult, I am thankful he was a POW in a fairly humane camp, and was not one of those many of our fallen heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Dad constructed a mock-up of his camp which he took with him on his many lectures to area high school history classes over the years. I think he knew that the story must be told…that the world must not forget the atrocities war brings about. I’m very proud and thankful my father felt inclined to pass on such an important piece of his, and America’s, history. Mostly, I’m so glad he survived! He was a hero in my eyes!

Submitted by:

Janis (Jones) Hendrickson

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Donald Woodward McNamara - an Epilogue

The story is drawing to a close, but the memories will last a lifetime.  These pictures tell their own story.  Click on any photo for a larger view of all.

JoAnn Lower from the Northwood Anchor met us to write the story for the Anchor, and took this photo of some of us.  From Left, Ann and Dale Johnson, Lonna and myself, Kim and Shane, Marv and Shirley.

Shane and Kim are living a new life and have found a huge extended family.

On Memorial Day, Marv lay a wreath in honor of Donald McNamara.  After doing so he stood at attention, then snapped off a salute that spoke volumes about his memories.  Major John Meyer, USAF, retired, seated in this photo, gave a memorable speech about service, sacrifice, and community.

The best photos are the ones when people are not posing.  Marv and Shane shared a moment when most of the cameras had turned away, and this, too, spoke volumes.

The grandchildren of Donald have been told the story just recently, and are proud of their grandfather, whom they never knew, and only recently learned about.  When they are our age they will appreciate it even more and take greater pride.  We hope the NK62 Blog will help them to do that.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Weekend - Remember

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a photo taken in June, 2011, at Ft Snelling
The eagle landed on the headstone of Sgt Maurice Ruch, St Anthony, MN

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Graduation - the Start of Something BIG!

The music in the background is not necessarily of a style you would have been listening to on graduation day, but the title certainly fits. That day, 50 years ago, was indeed "the start of something big," and this summer we can commemorate all we've achieved over the years including the unusual ability to stay in touch.

We looked younger then, and of course we were.  Here's a view from the perspective of your senior picture - and some of the school activity you may have participated in.

If you've received this post by email, go to the blog site to watch it there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Old News from the Anchor

May 24, 1962 -

Sixty-five seniors graduated at the 1962 Northwood-Kensett High School commencement exercises Wednesay evening. Carol Orman was named valedictorian and Arlyn Morse salutatorian. Swensrud scholarships went to Leroy Leidal and Charles Hendrickson, who also was named recipient of the Lions Club award. Carol Orman received the bar award and Phil Johnson the Lee Reyerson award. Honor graduates were Carol Orman, Arlyn Morse, Christina Helvik, Ann Bergen, Marsha Gaarder, Marilyn Welder, Robert Smith, Jane Pacey, Janet Ashland, Leroy Leidal and Steve Sawin. Board president L.G. Stevens presented diplomas.

We'll have a musical tribute to the group tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ode to '57

Richard Holstad has done it again!  Here's a film/photo compilation he's put together and we've added to YouTube.  This is really well done.  If you're receiving this post by email you need to click the link to view it on YouTube.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Grads: 44 -- Scholarships: $496,371.72

Do the math - it's a pretty impressive source of revenue for any NKHS grad anymore, what with Casino money going to every student for a first year of education at any vocational school or college, to the tune of $6,676.63 each.

Makes you wonder why a boatload of folks aren't trying to move into the school district.  What an opportunity for a student and his/her parents.  Here is the front page from last week's paper.  We'd provide a link but it will be gone when the next issue is posted online.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Once again Stan Arendts has come up with a dandy, a video of the Ventures playing their signature hit, "Walk, Don't Run" in 1998.  The guy who was a 17-year-old drummer the first time they played it has come back as a walk-on, and now a brigadier general.  Stan correctly points out the big smile on his face.

And then, last night we attended a fundraiser at the Mabel Tainter Theater in Menomonie, WI, a 122-year-old tribute to the only daughter of a lumber baron, since refurbished as a beautiful theater used frequently.  The key???  entertainment was a cabaret show by a woman named Colleen Ray, who is a renowned, local entertainer.  She made the memories come back when she introduced a song popularized by the Sons of the Pioneers, whose lead singer was one Roy Rogers.

Here they are in a movie recording.  I visited with Colleen briefly after the performance and told her I loved her version, and the only thing missing was six cowboys crooning behind her.  Enjoy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Memorial Day

Northwood's VFW will host the Memorial Day services on Monday the 28th.  Arrangements have been made for Marv  Everhart to place a wreath in honor and memory of Donald Woodward.

We're glad to know the VFW is taking this step, and wanted our readers to know about it in case you'd like to make a contribution.  Several individuals have already stepped forward to say they want to contribute towards the wreath so we're suggesting that anyone who would like to do so could send a check to VFW Post 6779 Our Buddies Memorial, Northwood, IA.

Make a note that the contribution is for the wreath-laying for Donald Woodward McNamara, and whatever excess funds are contributed that way could be used in his memory.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Johnny Carson - Mr. Cool

Ed Ames was supposedly an expert with the tomahawk, thanks to his role as Mingo on the "Daniel Boone" show. As if throwing sharp objects in an audience-filled studio wasn't dangerous enough, Ames attempted the stunt with a hatchet instead. Aiming for a chalk cowboy outline, Ames threw, hitting the dummy directly between the legs, with Carson quipping, "I didn't even know you were Jewish."
It's another of the "50 Years Ago" stories like Target and Wal-Mart.  Johnny Carson took over the late night desk in 1962 and hung with it for 30 years.  Perhaps most of us started watching it in black and white until a color television was affordable, but no matter, the shows were all great.

He was unflappable.  His deadpan look, sense of timing, unabashed laughter, and ability to turn a poorly-received joke into a crowd-pleaser have been unparalleled during or since.

Favorite moments include his session with Dolly Parton ("I'd give a year's salary for a peek under there!"), or Ed Ames, Mingo from the Daniel Boone Show who expertly threw a hatchet directly into the crotch of a shadow.  Read the whole story here . . .

Name your own favorite moment, because there were many.

He had a few losers, but not many, and seemed to be a pivot point for success - or failure - of a new guest.  His own team may have had their own mixed emotions, as Doc Severinsen once pointed out, that Johnny could be "intimidating."  Yet where would Ed McMahon be without him?  This testimonial from Severinsen says it all.

Watch Doc Severinsen on Johnny Carson on PBS. See more from pbs.

Here is the PBS synopsis on Carson - click here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Watch Mr Wizard

He's the guy who did the Saturday morning science show with a young neighbor kid.  Don Herbert, a graduate of UW-LaCrosse and a Minnesota native, made his mark doing weird things to prove his scientific points.  He's kind of like our own Glenn Rezabek.  Here's his story from the Museum of Broadcast Communications:

Watch Mr. Wizard, one of commercial television's early educational efforts was highly successful in making science exciting and understandable for children. Presenting scientific laboratory demonstrations and information in an interesting, uncomplicated and entertaining format, this long running series was a prime example of the Chicago School of Television and of quality education in a visual format. Created and hosted by Don Herbert, the show's low key approach, casual ad lib style and resourceful often magic-like demonstrations led to rapid success and brought Herbert instant recognition and critical acclaim as an innovative educational broadcaster and as a teacher of science.  You can read the rest of their report by clicking this link...  

I have this vision of Billy Roberts watching him so he could learn how to blow things up.  Kidding . . .

And here's a sample from YouTube.

For all you fisher people out there, Herbert's hometown, Waconia, was the site of the Governor's fishing opener last weekend on Lake Waconia.  It was an unusually beautiful, sunny day (for the opener), but apparently the fish got a bad case of lockjaw, and Governor Dayton scored zero walleyes, one sunny.  But he admits to being no more than a novice at best.  Waconia is just west of the Cities on Highway 5.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Target and Wal-Mart, 1962

It's not just NKHS 62 celebrating 50 years this month.  In May of '62, unbeknownst to all or most of us, Target opened their first store in Roseville, Minnesota, a northern suburb of St Paul, and Wal-Mart opened its first store two months later in Rogers, Arkansas.  Little did we know . . .

To read the full story and get the history of the store you probably call Tar-Zhay, click this link.

When you leave the Target store and drive to the Senior Center, you may need some help in making the right turn.  Look for these signs.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Decorah Eagle Cam - Behind the Scenes

There's a lot of talk about this Eagle Cam, and KARE 11 in the Twin Cities did a show on it recently.  After watching the Robin leave home the other day, posting this story seemed appropriate.  Randy Shaver is the primary sportscaster for the station, and presents a "nice guy" image.  He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease in 1998 and is a survivor.

Julie Nelson is a Size 2.  What else is there to say about her?  OK, she has a nice presentation, too.

Just in case you haven't viewed the webcam site, here it is. 

Live stream videos at Ustream

Friday, May 4, 2012

Empty Nest Syndrome

Sure, you've had an empty nest for years.  But what about your own brood?  How are they feeling about losing their youngsters?  You may want to pass this along to them - the transition from parent to "empty nester" in one short video.  My daughter sent this to me, now that her oldest has gone off to college and the two younger are racing towards that same status.  OK, they're not racing, but it sure seems like it.

You might be better off downloading this because it's a pretty good-sized video.  Click this link to go to the Vimeo website, then click the download button at the bottom of the screen..