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Memorial Day services planned for the area – Park Rapids Enterprise


Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who died in service to their country.

The holiday was officially proclaimed in 1868 to honor Union and Confederate soldiers and was expanded after World War I to honor those who died in all wars.

Today, Memorial Day honors over 1 million men and women who have died in military service since the Civil War.

Park Rapids, Akeley, Menahga and Laporte have scheduled Memorial Day programs.

The Park Rapids American Legion family is conducting a Memorial Day commemoration, beginning at the Park Rapids Area High School auditorium at 9 a.m. Monday, May 30.

A wreath-laying ceremony will follow at the Red Bridge Park, then continue at the All Veterans Memorial.

Guest speaker is Bill Rothermel, who served in the Marine Corps from 1995 through 2021.

Bill Rothermel

Bill Rothermel

Contributed/Park Rapids American Legion

He started as an AV-8B Harrier attack pilot, deploying on board ships in support of Marine Expeditionary Units afloat and forward deployed to Iwakuni, Japan.

Rothermel spent the middle of his career as a developmental test pilot bringing new weapons, combat systems and mission capabilities to the AV-8B Harrier, F/A-18A-D Hornet, F/A-18EF Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler.

He concluded his 26-year career as program manager of the AV-8B Harrier. Here he was responsible for the budget, contracting and execution of all acquisition and sustaining logistics for the aircraft.

During his military career, Rothermel earned the Legion of Merit, four Meritorious Service Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal and three Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medals. He accumulated over 2000 flight hours and is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

He holds a Master of Science in operations research from the Florida Institute of Technology, a Master of Science in flight test engineering from Air University and a Master of Science in national resource strategy from the National Defense University.

He currently works for Sierra Management and Technologies, Inc. as a senior logistics manager, supporting the Naval Sustainment Group. He continues to support our national defense in this role by providing guidance and consultation to naval aviation on subjects like supply chain management, organizational level maintenance, support equipment, tools and facilities, and maintenance planning.

He is a third-generation member of the Park Rapids American Legion. Although he lives in Aurora, Minn., with his wife, Amy, they look forward to spending time with family, friends and the Legion in Park Rapids.

Monday’s Memorial Day program will recognize Gold Star Parents and veterans who passed away. Legion Commander Mike Smith will welcome all.

A luncheon at the Legion concludes the day’s events.

The Akeley Veterans and Community Outreach organization will be holding the traditional Memorial Day services at the Akeley and Nevis local cemeteries. To keep all services on time, the program at the Akeley Cemetery will begin promptly at 9 a.m., then proceed to White Oak Cemetery, Lemon Cemetery, Lakeside Cemetery, and lastly Rest Haven Cemetery.

This year’s ceremony will be similar to years past and include a prayer from Pastor John Carpenter, national anthem by Christy Semmler and Ardis Johnson, and “Taps” by Samara Walker.

Commander Dave Free and the Marine Corps League Color Guard will present the colors and rifle salute. The Tri-County Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol cadets will assist with placing wreaths.

Everyone is encouraged to attend any one of these service sites to observe the ceremony, to give thanks and to show respect for the American heroes that fought and sacrificed for our freedom.

Menahga’s Memorial Day program begins at 10 a.m. Monday, May 30 at the new high school gym.

The Menahga VFW Post 6206 Color Guard will present the nation’s colors.

The Miss and Little Menahga royal court is leading the national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance.

VFW essay winner Claire Haataja will share her work. Carol Ann Cleveland and Menahga Police Chief Adam Gunderson will present “A is for Agent Orange.”

The Pine Cone 4-H Club will present gifts to all veterans present at the ceremony.

There will be a recognition of local veterans who have passed away over the past year: Eddie Hepola, Lee James, Frank Mathiew, Paul Gentz, Neil Wogsland, Don Mullen, Clarence School, Paul Shepersky, Robert Feuer and Walter Stewert.

Menahga School choir students will sing “God Bless America.”

The Laporte-Benedict American Legion and Auxiliary Post 462 will host Memorial Day events on Monday, May 30.

A brief program will be held at 9 a.m. at Evergreen Cemetery, including “Taps” and a rifle salute, then continuing on to the Catholic Cemetery.

At 10 a.m. at the Laporte School, there will be a program with speakers and music, followed by a brief ceremony at the Garfield Lake access and concluding at the Lakeport Cemetery.

A Memorial Day service is scheduled at the Fern Township Cemetery at 11 a.m. Monday, May 30 The event is sponsored by the local Homemakers Club, with the VFW serving as honor guard and presenting colors.

Following the service, a community potluck will be held at the Fern Town Hall. All are welcome.





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