Thursday, November 8, 2018

One Way Minnesota Says 'Thank You' to Veterans

A Veterans Day message from Executive Director Dave Unmacht:
Life is full of firsts, although it is comfortable to suggest that the older one gets, the less of them there are. (And if you are wondering if I have a bucket list of ideals and aspirations in pursuit of dreams not yet fulfilled; the answer is no, at least not yet!)

Well, I had a first this fall when I, along with dozens of mayors and city officials from across the state, attended a National Guard ceremony to honor the Rosemount-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division troop deployment. Around 650 men and women of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division represent approximately 185 communities from across Minnesota. Each person in the division is leaving their families, jobs, and communities to begin a 10-month deployment in the Middle East with an initial stop in Fort Hood, Texas for training.

Families of the Rosemount-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division
gather for dinner before a recent deployment.
No doubt it is an anxious time for soldiers and their families. To ease their nerves and to create positive memories, a group of volunteers has made deployments in Minnesota something to remember. The work of around 200 volunteers from an organization called “Serving our Troops” came together to serve a delicious meal to the soldiers and their families in conjunction with the ceremony. I, along with League President Heidi Omerza and 2nd Vice President Brad Wiersum, had the honor to work one of many food lines serving up a classic steak dinner at the event on Sept. 30. Over 5,000 steaks were served.

Even more city officials representing many of the communities these soldiers are leaving behind for their deployment also helped out at the event. To my amazement, volunteers from Serving our Troops and their community partners have served over 95,000 steak dinners since 2004. Isn’t that amazing!
“This is how Minnesota comes together to say ‘Thank You’—dinner with the family for 5,000 people,” noted Serving our Troops spokesperson and co-organizer, Pat Harris. “It was an incredible show of support.” Friends of the League will recognize Pat and his wife Laura, the League’s Event Manager, and who is also very much involved in Serving Our Troops..  
Just a few of the city officials who volunteered for the event.
While we were thanked for participating, the real thanks
goes to the troops we enjoyed serving that evening.
I can attest to the truth of Pat's observation. It was an awesome experience; made even more extraordinary by the humbling thanks and expressions of appreciation the troops and their families offered to us as volunteers.  

I was one of thousands of people attending and even I felt special, though the only service I performed revolved around steak. But the thanks is really yours and mine to the troops and their families for the personal sacrifice each is making for their state and country.
Photo credit goes to LMC Executive Director David Unmacht

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