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Memorial Day events honor veterans

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Talk to Cloquet’s Richard Chasse about Memorial Day, and the veteran makes no mention of grilling out, boating or other frivolities.

For the Cloquet Combined Honor Guard captain, Memorial Day is a serious occasion.

“It’s a day to honor veterans who have passed, as compared to Veterans Day, which honors all veterans. It’s a day to memorialize veterans, to be thankful for what we have and for what Americans sacrificed in order to have what we have.”

There will be numerous events at area cemeteries and military memorials on Monday to honor the dead; both the Cloquet and Carlton Honor Guards will be busy from early morning until noon, with the largest gatherings happening at 11:30 a.m. at Cloquet’s Veterans Park (patriotic music by the Cloquet Community Band starts at 11 a.m.) and the cemetery in Carlton. (Find detailed schedules at the end of this story.)

Carlton VFW manager Todd Mostrom said Memorial Day and its ceremonies is a special time.

“It’s really important for family members of people who passed away in the military,” he said.

Chasse, a career marine from 1975 to 1999, is still immersed in all things military in his retirement.

At the Cloquet VFW, he holds about six different positions in addition to his honor guard duties. He is Senior Vice Commander of the VFW’s Eighth District. He is a member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and the American Legion.

He agreed that it would be nice if more people paused on Monday — and every other day — to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“We always wish more people would honor veterans or be thankful for the sacrifices that were made,” Chasse said. “Just because someone doesn’t die in combat, doesn’t mean they don’t come back wounded, or affected.”

Following are the planned cemetery visitations by the various Cloquet military organizations, including VFW Post No. 3979, American Legion Post No. 262, DAV Chapter 18, American ex-Prisoners of War and their auxiliaries. The American Legion riders will be escorting the Color Guard to each cemetery. All are welcome.

8:15 a.m. — Highway 210, Sawyer

8:30 a.m. — Sts. Mary and Joseph, Sawyer

9 a.m. — Holy Family Mission

9:15 a.m — Maple Grove

9:30 a.m. — New Calvary

9:50 a.m. — Hill between old cemeteries above Pinehurst Park

10:20 a.m. — Apostolic Church, Esko

10:45 a.m. — St. Matthew’s, North Cloquet Road

11:05 a.m. — Pine River, North Highway 33

11 a.m. Cloquet Community band starts with patriotic music at Veterans.

11:30 a.m. — Military ceremony at Veterans Park, Cloquet

The Carlton Post 2962 Honor Guard will make stops at the following cemeteries:

7:45 a.m. — Eagle Lake

8:10 a.m. — Cromwell

8:50 a.m. — Atkinson

9:30 a.m. — Sandy Lake

9:55 a.m. — Oak Lake

10:25 a.m. — Holyoke

11:05 a.m. — Silver Brook/Wrenshall

11:30 a.m. — Carlton

Cemetery care for family members

Mike LaVoy, a member of the Carlton VFW who volunteers to put flags on the veterans’ graves in Carlton, shared a few suggestions regarding care of tombstones.

“I’ve had people call and tell me their stone is covered with dirt or moss, when are you going to fix it?” LaVoy said. “It’s not my job to fix it. It’s their stone. They should take care of it.”

LaVoy added that he gets several calls a year from families upset that the grave of their deceased veteran isn’t marked with a flag for Memorial Day.

There are several reasons a veteran grave site might not get a flag, LaVoy said:

  1. It’s covered up with dirt or moss and impossible to read. Families should clear away any encroaching grass or dirt and remove moss. They can scrub a granite stone with a soft brush (like a little plastic kitchen brush) and water and it usually cleans right up.

  2. The veteran is buried beneath a family stone and there is no indication that he or she is a veteran. LaVoy said families of veterans can stop by to the Carlton County Veterans Service office (near the license bureau in the County Services building in downtown Cloquet) and find out how to order a plaque that can be mounted on a family stone. Call Duane Brownie at 218-499-6838 to find out what you need to bring to get the plaque.

“I just want people to get these cleaned up so we can have a flag put on there for Memorial Day,” LaVoy said. “I know some of the World War I veterans don’t have any family members left to take care of them, so the crew in Carlton have been trying to take care of that. But [cemetery cleanup] isn’t usually a big priority item for most cities, so family members need to help out if they can.”