In memory: Jamestown honors service, sacrificeAmerica’s military is made up of the sort of people who run to the sound of gunfire, not away, Heidi Heitkamp said at a Memorial Day program here Monday.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
America’s military is made up of the sort of people who run to the sound of gunfire, not away, Heidi Heitkamp said at a Memorial Day program here Monday.
Heitkamp, former North Dakota attorney general, spoke to about 200 people Monday morning at the Knights of Columbus in honor of those who served in the U.S. armed forces.
“We must never forget,” Heitkamp said of all veterans, “and we must tell the story over and over and over again, but grateful words are never enough.”
She described how her father started what is still probably the smallest Veterans of Foreign Wars unit in the country in Mantador, N.D., and how her small town embraced Memorial Day.
“Our nation is not just in your debt,” Heitkamp said. “We stand in your shadow and look with great pride and gratitude.”
Heitkamp, a Democrat who is running for the U.S. Senate against Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., said those who fought and continue to fight for the United States stand on both sides of the aisle.
Veterans’ benefits need to be to be preserved, she said.
“As much as we protect those who serve, we must also protect those who have served,” she said.
Heitkamp also recalled the time when she thanked the National Guard soldiers tasked with sandbagging in her Mandan, N.D., neighborhood.
One member hung up the phone when she approached him. Heitkamp said while he was sandbagging in Mandan, his wife called to report that water had infiltrated their Grand Forks home. She said that type of dedication to North Dakota and the people here is something she was impressed by.
She also mentioned Jamestown veteran Jim Carlascio. She said his modesty after going through his time as a prisoner of war in World War II is a trait many veterans share.
“That kind of humble dignity has been evident in homecoming celebrations in small communities,” she said.
After her speech, Heitkamp said she chose Jamestown for her Memorial Day speech because the Brown family asked her to come.
Spc. Phillip Brown, Jamestown, died in May 8, 2004, after suffering wounds from an improvised explosive device in Iraq. On Sept. 22, 2004, Staff Sgt. Lance Koenig, Fargo, also died from an IED in Iraq. Both were members of the 141st Engineer Battalion of the North Dakota National Guard.
“If anything I can say would provide comfort for the family, I want to do that,” Heitkamp said.
After the program, much of the crowd attended the naval ceremony at the Nickeus Park bridge.
There, 70 people watched the Navy tradition of lowering the wreath into the water in remembrance of fallen sailors.
Dave Gienger, Vietnam veteran and an electronics technician third class with the Navy, has been at nearly every wreath lowering since it started in 1971. He served on the USS Essex and the USS Independence from 1965-1969.
“I lost a buddy from high school in Vietnam and that’s about it,” Gienger said.
The Rev. Randy Jaspers provided multiple invocations and benedictions at Jamestown’s Memorial Day events. He said service is a tradition in his family, from his grandfather who was a doughboy in World War I, to his son who just returned from a naval deployment in Afghanistan a year ago.
“It’s a time to remember and honor and give thanks for their service,” he said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org