For 20 years, Grace Lutheran honors veterans

Published 8:39 am Friday, May 18, 2018

This Sunday, Grace Lutheran Church wants to honor area veterans who served their country with a service of their own.

For 20 years, the church — located at 2001 Sixth Ave. SE — has honored its local military heroes with a Veterans Appreciation service.

On May 20, starting at 9 a.m., all veterans, families and the general public, are welcome to attend the program that would recognize former service members with a ceremony, followed by a speech.

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Randy Mickleson, a Vietnam War-era veteran and member of the American Legion in Grand Meadow, will act as this year’s speaker and aims to share his training experience with his fellow veterans. Despite what branch of the military the veterans have served in,

they underwent similar training, according to Mickleson, and often seek each other for stories and comfort.

Having been a member at Grace Lutheran for 12 years, Mickleson felt that these appreciation services were a way to show support for their military service members, who otherwise may have gone their entire lives without being thanked or acknowledged for having served overseas.

This Sunday would mark the third time Mickleson was asked to speak during the appreciation services.

“The day is well received by everyone,” he shared. “(Veterans) show their appreciation of having a service dedicated to them, and the church appreciates them. …. I consider it to be an honor and a privilege. This is the place I say is my home now that would do something this special for me.”

There will be the presenting of colors by the VFW Post 1216 and American Legion Post 91 in Austin. Red geraniums will adorn the church, and a free, light lunch will be served after the church service. During the appreciation ceremony, each military branch’s song will be sung, and those who served under that branch, will be invited to stand next to their respective flag and be recognized for their military service.

Lavona Johnson, organizer, whose husband served in the U.S. Navy and passed away 11 years ago, felt that having a day that recognized veterans for their service who may not have been acknowledged before, was important and beneficial for the community’s veterans.

Every year, she’d open the door for the veterans exiting the fellowship hall and would be told the same thing:

“We’ll see you next year,” Johnson added.