Veteran, soldier reflect on holiday's meaning
A veteran and a soldier say Memorial Day is a day to remember those who gave their lives in service to their country, a day that has new meaning for them with the current war in Iraq. Louis Hanson, 85, Jamestown, originally of Adrian, N.D., volun...
A veteran and a soldier say Memorial Day is a day to remember those who gave their lives in service to their country, a day that has new meaning for them with the current war in Iraq.
Louis Hanson, 85, Jamestown, originally of Adrian, N.D., volunteered for the draft April 25, 1941, and was in the first group drafted out of La-Moure County. He was eventually assigned to the 164th North Dakota National Guard. The Army soldiers were the first to land on Guadalcanal (after the Marines) and soon to become veterans of some of the most intense fighting in the Pacific during World War II.
Asked what Memorial Day means to him, Hanson said, "Doesn't it honor the boys who fought in any war?"
One of his brothers, Arthur, also served during World War II, and a younger brother, Duane, served in the Korean War. His son, Bob, served 13 months in Vietnam.
Since 1997, Hanson has been attending Memorial Day services in Mandan because his wife, Kathleen, is buried there.
"It (Memorial Day) really brings memories back, especially this Iraq war. I just heard of more of our boys getting killed and many, many Iraqis. The same with Afghanistan," Hanson said. "War is hell."
Whenever he goes to Bismarck, one of his stops is at the museum just south of the Capitol. The museum contains a list of all North Dakotans killed in action, including those of the 164th.
"I've got all their names in my computer," Hanson said, tapping his head. He listed more than a dozen names of those he had served with who died.
Kary Duffy, of rural Wimbledon, is a member of the 141st Engineer Combat Battalion and a veteran of Iraqi Freedom, the war in Iraq. Four members of the 141 were killed during their year in Iraq.
She went out on convoy a couple of times a week, but said she had the good fortune not to be attacked.
"Two years ago, I probably wouldn't have had a good answer (to what Memorial Day means). But having gone to Iraq has really changed my thoughts on holidays like this," Duffy said.
"Memorial Day to me is a day of remembering fallen soldiers throughout history, and especially the ones I have served with. When I think about Memorial Day and the times we had memorials for the fallen soldiers - they (members of the 141st) would do a roll call. But when they got to the fallen soldier's name, it was really sad because they couldn't answer when they were called."
She said the day brings to mind others who have died.
"Friends and family that have passed on, I think of them too," Duffy said.
Sun staff reporter David Maack can be reached at (701) 952-8454 or by e-mail at email@example.com