Making Camp in the Philipines-Gordon Short from St. Vincent on far right...
Kittson County: So many crosses, but once-fading veterans' stories have been revived
By Chuck Haga
HALMA, MINN. (November 11, 2008) — As a boy growing up in tiny Halma (pop. 73), Shane Olson never missed a Veterans Day program. It was a family thing.
His father, Billy, served in Vietnam. His grandfathers served in World War II, one as a combat medic on Okinawa. And his great-grandfather, Herbert, was wounded in fighting near St. Mihiel, France, where the American First Army under Gen. J.J. Pershing — in its first independent operation of World War I — pinched off a German salient and captured 16,000 German prisoners.
But there were so many crosses in the cemetery, so many fading stories.
"I always wondered who those guys were besides just a name," Olson said.
Years ago, he set out to collect as much information as he could about the veterans of Kittson County, the far northwestern corner of Minnesota wedged between North Dakota and Canada. He has visited all their graves, and he plans to write a book and build a veterans memorial on the banks of the Two Rivers in Lake Bronson, Minn.
Today is the 90th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I: "The Great War," it was called, and "the war to end all wars," and "the war to make the world safe for democracy."
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