Valley honors vets Sunday, Monday

Several events mark Veterans Day

The St. Croix Valley honors veterans and active-duty military personnel in a series of events Sunday that include ceremonies in downtown Stillwater and at the city’s Veterans’ Memorial across from the Historic Washington County Courthouse.

Events marking Veterans Day started Thursday with the annual flag-raising ceremony at Andersen Elementary School in Bayport held by the Hesley Jensen American Legion Post No. 491.

Veterans Day observances Sunday begin when area veterans march from the Stillwater American Legion Post No. 48 through downtown ending at the corner of Main and Chestnut streets. At 11:11 a.m., Stillwater Police officers will stop traffic for the color guard’s annual ceremony that includes a bugler playing “Taps,” a short prayer and 21-gun salute.

Shortly after the downtown observance, the annual ceremony at the Veterans Memorial at Third and Pine streets begins at 11:30 a.m. Guest speaker is U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas Simonet. Veterans Memorial Board Chairman Kevin Monoi is master of ceremonies.

Simonet, a Stillwater native, is emergency preparedness liaison officer supporting the Department of Defense response to Homeland Security efforts to provide military support to civilian authorities during major disasters or special interest events.

The Veterans Memorial observance includes the reading of names of veterans on pavers installed at the memorial since Memorial Day.

Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater holds its 16th Annual Veterans Day service at 2 p.m. with Iraq war veteran and outgoing state Rep. John Kriesel speaking at the event.

The Croix Chordsmen, under the direction of Matt Hall, and pianist Craig Koehnen perform during the service. There is also a special showing featuring Stillwater’s World War II veterans.

Along with the events, veterans and active-duty military personnel eat free at Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Leo’s owner Cory Buettner said the popular downtown restaurant has made arrangements to serve more people Sunday.

“We asked and received permission to set up a large heated tent on Chestnut Street which will allow us the privilege to serve many more veterans this year,” he said. “The restaurant normally seats 50 people, and will be able to seat another 100 people under the tent.”

Buettner said veterans can order any item from the restaurant’s menu. The menu is simpler under the tent but includes hamburgers, French fries and malts along with a turkey dinner. No proof of military service is required to receive a free meal.

“We take them on their honor,” said co-owner Naashom Buettner.

“It is a privilege and an honor to welcome veterans to our restaurant. In the past, we have served as many as 200 free meals,” added Cory Buettner. “We hope to triple that this year.”

St. Croix Lutheran School in West St. Paul holds its Veterans Day program beginning at 9 a.m. Monday at the school. Chapel is 9:45 a.m. followed by a 10:15 a.m. ceremony in the school gym.

SCL Class of 1998 graduate, U.S. Army Maj. Joel R. Kassulke, is guest speaker, with music by the SCL band, choirs and Croixaliers.