Anokans proudly saluted servicemen and women and celebrated patriotism when the city was officially proclaimed a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community during a formal ceremony Dec. 14.
Active military personnel, veterans, elected officials and educators attended the ceremony on a cold winter’s night.
Organizers pitched a tent, raised a stage, assembled folding chairs and served hot coffee inside the heated tent on the Anoka County Fairgrounds.
Minnesota Army National Guard Col. Dirk Kloss, brigade commander of the 84th Troop Command and member of the official Beyond the Yellow Ribbon party, congratulated assembled hometown patriots.
“The lives of service members and their families are positively impacted by patriotic people like you,” Kloss said and then described how he witnessed local children’s patriotism.
“I visited a first-grade class here this week and I was so impressed with the knowledge and respect they had for the flag, for the military,” he said. “It truly impressed me.”
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and State Rep. Jim Abeler were both on hand for the proclamation ceremony, congratulating Beyond the Yellow Ribbon committee members and describing the ongoing support provided through the network.
“You are joining a proud and patriotic network of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon cities across the state,” Klobuchar said. “When our troops are serving, we need to wrap our arms around the soldiers and their families and help them to meet the next challenges. This is a shining example of doing just that.”
Annette Brechon Kuyper, director of military outreach for the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs, read a letter from Gov. Mark Dayton. In it, Dayton thanked Anoka for helping, supporting and serving military families and demonstrating a commitment of support.
Abeler, a resident of Anoka, also expressed his pride and said, “This is a great day, but we have to remember that after today, after the news story, we still have lots of veterans to serve – and that service will not be diminished once the news is over.”
The support provided by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon looks to emulate the help available on an active duty base and includes services and support for education and child care, employment services, family resources, legal services and more.
In fact, Darryl “Butch” Hathaway, chairman of Anoka’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon committee, said there are no limits on how the network can help service members or their families.
“We can be there for service members’ families when they are deployed. If they need snow plowed, we can plow snow. If they need the furnace fixed, we can get that done,” Hathaway said last month while inviting folks to attend the official proclamation ceremony.
And Beyond the Yellow Ribbon service doesn’t end when deployed military return home, he said.
“We provide a welcome home for military men and women,” Hathaway said. “We help to connect businesses and volunteer groups together with service members and their families. We can help find employment for veterans. What we can do goes on and on.”
In fact, the support network reaches beyond Anoka’s borders as Yellow Ribbon Communities unite all areas within a community to create a comprehensive network that connects and coordinates agencies, organizations, resources and employers for supporting service members and military families.
John Kriesel, director of the Anoka County Veterans Service Office, spoke after the official proclamation had been made.
“The best way to judge a community is by how it treats its police, fire, and military personnel,” Kriesel said. “This community has been serving those people for many years. I am proud to work here in this community. We can help every vet get every benefit … I look forward to working with you to serve these vets.”
Closing his comments, Kloss described the lasting value of service and support offered by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon communities when he quoted American author Albert Pine, who said, “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
To learn more about Anoka’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon services and support, contact Hathaway at [email protected] or find it on Facebook at “Anoka Beyond the Yellow Ribbon.”
Sue Austreng is at [email protected]