The Minnesota Veterans Home in Fergus Falls hosted a Veterans Day Program on Monday that featured patriotic music sung by the Veterans Home Choir, guest speaker Jean Walker, Department President of the Minnesota American Legion Auxiliary, and honorary guest Larry Herke, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Thank you for what you have done, thank you for your selfless service as today we honor all of you who have worn the nation’s uniform,” said Walker during her speech, where she reflected on the history and significance of Veterans Day. Originally called Armistice Day to honor veterans of World War I, in 1954, “President Eisenhower signed a bill to honor not only the veterans of World War I, but all the veterans of World War II, the Korean War and all the veterans yet to be. The name was officially changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.”
After Walker spoke, Boots on the Ground, a nonprofit organization that raises money for the Veterans Home recreation fund, presented the home with the money they raised during this year’s motorcycle run in September: $38,000. “We will be splitting the funds between the following,” said Darcy Soland-Farmer, who works in recreation at the Veterans Home and is a BotG founder and board chair, “$17,000 to the greenhouse, $3,500 to Patriot Park, $3,500 to the shadow boxes, $5,000 to the memorial wall and $5,969.52 to the general recreation fund.”
Following the presentation of the check, Veterans Home administrator Scott Buchanan thanked BotG and gave a few comments of his own, saying that while it’s great to thank veterans on Veterans Day, but it would be even better to thank them every day. “We do our very best to make every day here at the Veterans Home in Fergus Falls Veterans Day.”
Buchanan then introduced retired colonel Larry Herke, the 18th commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. Herke thanked all the veterans present, with a special, personal thanks to the World War II veterans who were present. “The Department of Veterans Affairs is here for you and your family,” Herke said, addressing everyone. “My staff, no matter where they’re located, and they’re located in about 55 locations in Minnesota, have a mission and that mission is to ensure you, the veteran, receive good care and benefits that you have earned.”
The Veterans Home also presented a slideshow that introduced the individual veterans living at the home, including photos of the men during their time of service. Fergus Falls American Legion Post #30, their auxiliary and VFW Post #612 were also present to honor the veterans, as well as Chaplain Paul Hohncke, who gave the invocation and veterans blessing.
The room was full of families and friends who were there to support the veteran residents of the home. After the program, American flag cookies, coffee and lemonade were available to guests.