Honoring service

David Polzin and St. John’s Lutheran School students perform at the eighth annual NYA Beyond the Yellow Ribbon banquet on Saturday that recognized Vietnam War veterans. (Adam Gruenewald/The Times)

By Adam Gruenewald
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Assisting and acknowledging the efforts of service members for the country is something that should be a constant given no matter the conflict or month. And it’s never too late to do so.
That message was highlighted during the eighth annual NYA Beyond the Yellow Ribbon (BTYR) banquet on Saturday which featured guest speaker Heidi Gould of the Carver County Historical Society, a special tribute to Vietnam War service members and others, good food and performances by St. John’s Lutheran School students.
The national Beyond the Yellow Ribbon organization works to honor, serve and support veterans, military service members and their families and to mark those efforts, community members attended the banquet at the Willkommen Park Pavilion.
In her brief, yet impactful, presentation Gould highlighted the history of the Vietnam War as well as the local service members who served in and those who died in the conflict.
Among the seven who died in the conflict in Carver County included Kenneth Dressel, David Fritz, Charles Hartwig, Michael Notermann, Donald Siewert, Garrity Vogel and Larry Wilson.
Sampling a segment of the Carver County Historical Society’s wealth of information on record and on display, Gould shared the stories of Kenneth Dressel of Watertown, who had died in the war, as well as Rich Tellers of NYA, who was present.
Gould also highlighted the happenings in Carver County at the time which, amidst frequent draft rule changes, included protests during the 1966 Carver County Fair as well as letters to the editor in area newspapers stressing for the acknowledgment of efforts.
“Of course everyone has their own personal opinions about the war,” said Gould, before reading selections from a variety of letters to the editor criticizing the reasons for entering the war and encouraging support of those returning home. “It is the most controversial of all the wars and we talk about the veterans of the Vietnam War don’t get as much respect as those from other wars. A lot of letters said that was wrong.”
After reading from a particular letter that ran in the Waconia Patriot that highlighted the need to “remember the sacrifices made by those who served their country bravely,” Gould stressed the importance of continuing to do so.
“Again, very well expressed and a sentiment most of us this room agree,” she said. A big thank you to all the Vietnam veterans who are here tonight.”
In addition, emcee Bert Tellers led those in attendance in thanking veterans, St. John’s NYA Pastor Josh Bernau led prayers, NYA Mayor Carol Lagergren recognized the BTYR Proclamation for the month of May and Bill Hart spoke on the significance on an empty table at the banquet for prisoners of war and missing in action St. John’s Lutheran Principal David Polzin also led students in special music presentation and Crystal Dammann of BTYR recognized the students with a special plaque.
In his closing benediction, Pastor Bernau thanked those in attendance as well as God.
“Thank you for what the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon does for this community, thank you for this beautiful community in which we live that supports those who have served and continue to serve,” he said. “To the soldiers, we thank you for the freedoms that we have as a country. Thank you for the sacrifices people have made.”
Volunteers are welcome to attend general meetings of the NYA Beyond of the Yellow Committee, held the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the NYA City Hall conference room.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/NYABeyondtheYellowRibbon, http://nyabeyondtheyellowribbon.weebly.com, or www.BeyondTheYellowRibbon.org.

Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.