Weather fails to deter Veterans Day ceremonies

Gazette photo by Erik Sandin
Stillwater Civil War re-enactors Don Drew, left, Jim Halvorson, Phill Cudd, Curt Carlson and Mark Warner prepare to fire a volley to salute veterans Sunday during a ceremony at the Washington County Historic Courthouse in Stillwater. “We try to remind everyone that today is Armistice Day,” Drew said. After the group fired its salute, Chaplain John Palmer offered a brief prayer.

A cold, damp, blustery day failed to keep St. Croix Valley residents away from ceremonies marking Veterans Day Sunday.

The traditional march by veterans from the Stillwater American Legion Post No. 48 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No 323 to downtown Stillwater began the proceedings Sunday.

When the joint honor guard arrived at the intersection of Main and Chestnut streets, Stillwater Police officer stopped traffic for a brief morning ceremony that included the playing of “Taps” and a 21-gun salute.

Minutes earlier, members of a Stillwater Civil War re-enactors group fired their own salute to veterans on the lawn of the Washington County Historic Courthouse.

The downtown and Historic Courthouse events were followed by the annual Veterans Day ceremony at the Stillwater Veterans Memorial across Pine Street from the Historic Courthouse.

Stillwater native and U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas Simonet was guest speaker at the event. Amid prayers and patriotic songs, the names of five veterans inscribed on pavers at the memorial installed since Memorial Day were read aloud.

Veterans and active-duty military personnel could also enjoy a free dinner from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop. Leo’s owner, Cory Buettner, installed a heated tent adjacent to his restaurant that could seat 100 customers.

The heated tent was necessary as cold air poured into the region Sunday, bringing falling temperatures and a wintery mix of precipitation to the St. Croix Valley following an unusually mild Saturday that saw highs in the 60s.

By late Sunday morning, however, temperatures had plunged to near freezing with a light mist. National Weather Service forecasters warned that icy conditions could occur into western Wisconsin by Sunday afternoon.

“Colder air pouring across the region will bring a period of sleet or light freezing rain to parts of west-central Wisconsin this afternoon before changing to light snow,” said an NWS statement. “Any snow accumulation will be a trace to less than a half-inch.”

Tonight is expected to be cloudy and cold, with lows falling to near 20 and west winds 13-15 mph.

Veterans Day events Monday will be held under cloudy skies with a 20 percent chance of snow showers and flurries and highs near 30.

Those events include a 9 a.m. flag-raising ceremony by area veterens’ groups at the Ann Bodolovik Apartments on West Orleans Street in Stillwater and St. Croix Lutheran’s annual Veterans Day ceremony at 9 a.m. at the West St. Paul school. Guest speaker at that event is U.S. Army Maj. Joel R. Kassulke, a 1998 SLC graduate, with music by the SCL band, choirs and Croixaliers.

Monday is also the federal holiday marking Veterans Day. All federal, state and local government offices are closed and there is no regular mail delivery in observance of the holiday.