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Harry's Gang: Traditions hold on holiday

I’ll bet many of you are clearing brush this weekend. I know my family will be.

If city residents pile all our brush on the side of the roads within the Cloquet city limits, the city will come by and pick it up after next weekend. Look for more details in this edition of the Pine Knot News, or visit the City’s website for details. There are some restrictions and details you should verify before dumping a bunch of stuff at the curb.

This is a great example of good government in action. No lengthy studies; no blue ribbon commissions, no meeting for months before issuing a White Paper and a press release. No, when our community suffered through a tough winter, with record snowfall and ice storms that damaged a lot of trees and brush, we got together to collectively clean up the mess.

Our elected leaders deserve a lot of the credit, as do the public works department and the city’s administration. It’s proof that a government of, by and for the people can work.

To me, this is what our ancestors built and fought for, and succeeded. That’s why we have Memorial Day. To honor those who are responsible for preserving the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. The Memorial Day holiday is the perfect way to start the summer.

I, for one, am honored to be able to honor them. Where would our country be if not for the brave soldiers who fought in the War to End All Wars, or its sequel, World War Two? Prior to those wars, America was a nice, relatively low-key country that mostly kept to itself. After, though, we became a world superpower, and with that, our standard of living began to increase steadily. I doubt that would have happened if we had allowed the fascists to win those two wars. Later, the Korean Conflict and the war in Vietnam helped slow the spread of communism and stabilized our role as a worldwide force.

I love to celebrate Memorial Day. When I was a Boy Scout, I played the bugle at the military celebrations put on by the American Legion and the VFW. In high school, I volunteered to staff the high school auditorium where a Memorial Day service was held. Now that I have a family, I take the kids to the area cemeteries to visit the graves of the people who have shaped my life, and by extension, theirs. We’ll start in Esko, and retell one of their favorite stories about my good friend Jeff Korpi, who died way too early: When Patrick turned 2, we were just too busy to celebrate on his actual, midweek birth date. Korpi was having none of that — he showed up at dinner time with treats for the kids, a cake, and presents for Patrick that were highly inappropriate for a 2-year-old — things like flashlights, pocket knives, and silver pieces. We still have most of them, and on Monday I’ll remind them of how great their Uncle Jeff was. This year, we’ll add the incomparable Patty Murto to the list.

Next, we head up to Calvary to see family members, many who served. My Uncle Stan, who served as a paratrooper, and the kids’ grandparents, Tony (Marines) and Marg, an American patriot in her own right. We spend a little time reading the gravestones of other relatives before heading up to Two Harbors, where I grew up. So many of the people who influenced me as a kid are buried there, and it usually sparks some pretty good conversations with my kids. They become a bit solemn and reflective during these visits, possibly mimicking their father, but I think they are feeling it, too.

Sometimes I think this is all lost on kids nowadays. But when I asked my kids if they wanted to visit gravesites again this Memorial Day, I got an enthusiastic reply. We’ll honor our past heroes. Then, Tommy will want to practice driving, Patrick will scout locations for his telescope, and Ellie will want ice cream. I can’t wait.

Here’s hoping you have a happy, safe, and honorable Memorial Day weekend.

Pete Radosevich is the publisher of the Pine Knot News community newspaper and an attorney in Esko who hosts the cable access talk show Harry’s Gang on CAT-7. His opinions are his own. Contact him at [email protected].

 
 
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