A salute to service: St. Olaf recognizes veterans with gallery display

Published 6:40 am Wednesday, November 13, 2019

In the lobby area of St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Austin is a gallery wall, the purpose of which is to highlight church members and the surrounding community.

During the month of November, for the first time, visitors to St. Olaf can learn about some local veterans. Some are deceased, some are alive, but all share the same distinction of having worn the nation’s uniform.

The St. Olaf Senior Ministry Committee organized the display.

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“One of our committee members said that with Veterans Day coming up in November, it was time to recognize the veterans,” said David Sylte, who chairs the Senior Ministry Committee.

An authentic World War I uniform hangs as part of the display.

The veterans recognized are either current or former members of the congregation or have connections to current church members. The display features photographs and memorabilia ranging from World War I onward.

One of the most unique items is a U.S. Army World War I uniform that belonged to the late Jack Strehlow, a North Dakota farmer whose niece, Connie Priebe, is a member of St. Olaf.

“I used to go and stay (with my aunt and uncle) when I was a young kid,” she remembered. “They were like second parents to me.”

Photos of veterans connected to St. Olaf Lutheran Church are part of a display honoring those who served.

Connie shared that during World War I, her uncle was stationed in Washington State, where he cut down trees for general military use and for the building of early military aircraft. Her aunt gave Strehlow’s uniform to Connie’s son, Monte Priebe, who teaches social studies at Mayo High School in Rochester. The Strehlows were Monte’s baptismal sponsors.

Members of the public are welcome to visit the gallery display.

“It means a lot to those veterans,” Connie said. “It was amazing how impressed they were about being recognized.”

“Sometimes we take veterans’ service for granted and this acknowledges their service,” Sylte said. “Seeing some of these items is a reminder of those times.”

Items from World War II are on display at St. Olaf Lutheran Church, part of a display that will be up through the rest of November.

Holiday Care Packages

The Confirmation group at St. Olaf is looking to raise money for holiday care packages to be sent overseas to military personnel on deployment. Items to be sent include food and personal care items.

Interested donors can give $44 for a full care package or $22 for half a care package. Any amount helps.

Donations can be made at the church office.