Memorial Day services slated in Backus, Crosslake, Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Pine River

Services are scheduled Monday, May 31, with one Crosslake service set for Sunday, May 30

Speaking at the Crosslake Lutheran Memorial services will be Cpt. Gail Smith ASAR- Army Nurse Corps. Submitted Photo (May 2021)

Memorial Day ceremonies will be held Monday, May 31, in area communities, with one service planned Sunday, May 30, at Crosslake Lutheran Church.

Crosslake Lutheran Church will host a more traditional worship service at 8:30 a.m. Sunday in the sanctuary across from the campground. The 10 a.m. outdoor worship will feature a larger community-wide observance at 14019 Daggett Pine Road across from the Crosslake Community Center baseball field.

Both services are open to the public.

The outdoor service will feature John Carlson singing the national anthem, a contingent of the Crosslake- Fifty Lakes American Legion Color Guard firing an honorary salute to the dead and an aerial flyover by the North Star Squadron, a group of four fixed wing aircraft flown by experienced pilots who participate in air shows throughout the Midwest. Steve Knight, who has been an adviser to the Civil Air Patrol and now lives in Mission Hill, South Dakota, leads the squadron.

Veterans from World War II to the present will be honored. Those attending may stay in their cars and listen via radio or be seated on provided chairs. Visitors are also invited to bring their own chairs and blankets.


Capt. Gail Smith, Army Situational Awareness Room-Army Nurse Corps, will speak on the 30th anniversary of Desert Storm. Smith was a member of the 311th Evacuation Hospital, which deployed to the Middle East during Desert Storm and served for four months in the United Arab Emirates. She served as the chief training officer for the medical unit and for the UAE joint medical team.

During her 14 years as a reservist with the Army Nurse Corps she also served at Brooke Army and Walter Reed medical centers in the intensive care unit. She was awarded an Army Commendation medal for her service in the Gulf War and a special award from the UAE Royal Guard for her work in training.

She is a member of Crosslake-Fifty Lakes American Legion Post 500. In her civilian life, she has enjoyed a 47-year career in the emergency room and ICU, currently working at the Minneapolis Heart Institute in Baxter.

Smith also serves as the parish nurse at Crosslake Lutheran Church and leads activities for the Health Ministry Team. She and her husband, Larry (also a veteran), live in Crosslake.


Backus: Pastor John Rister, of the Backus Church of the Nazarene, will deliver the Memorial Day address at Backus and Ponto Lake cemeteries conducted by the Backus American Legion, Auxiliary and Sons of the Legion.

The Backus service will begin at 10 a.m. at Evergreen Cemetery, and the Ponto Lake service will follow at approximately 11 a.m.

The Backus Legion tribute to deceased veterans will include music by the Nazarene Church Praise Team, Rister's address, a tolling of the bell for community members deceased in the past year, a color guard rifle salute and the playing of taps.


In the event of bad weather, services will be moved to the Backus Legion clubrooms and Ponto Lake Town Hall.

Crosslake: The Crosslake Memorial Day ceremony, led by the Crosslake-Fifty Lakes American Legion Post 500, will be at 10 a.m. at the Crosslake Pinewood Cemetery on County Road 36.

The Crosslake Fire Department will participate with its new 78-foot ladder truck displaying a large American flag.

Melony Butler, founder and executive director of Eagles Healing Nest in Sauk Centre, will be the guest speaker. Eagles Healing Nest is a residence for military veterans with invisible mental scars, mostly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, to heal and return as productive members of society.

This annual ceremony is to honor and remember U.S. military veterans who sacrificed their lives defending our country. More than 190 local veterans are buried at Pinewood Cemetery. They are identified with individual American flags at their gravesite and will be recognized individually during the ceremony.

During the raising of the flag, John Carlson will sing the national anthem. Pastor Kurt Hagestuen, associate pastor at Crosslake Lutheran Church, will deliver the invocation and benediction. The ceremony will conclude with the Post 500 Color Guard providing military honors with the traditional rifle salute and the playing of taps.

Lawn chairs and umbrellas are recommended if there is the possibility of inclement weather.

Nisswa: Nisswa area residents will come together in a commemoration ceremony to honor soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the country’s liberty at noon at the Nisswa American Legion.


The Nisswa American Legion Color Guard will render military honors. Brad Wallace, music director at Grace United Methodist Church in Pequot Lakes, will provide music. The Nisswa Elementary School essay winner will read the winning essay.

Guest speaker will be Bob Nelson, former veterans service office from Crow wing County.

While the main purpose of the ceremony is to honor those who have died, those who have served and those who continue to fight for the freedom of our nation will also be honored.

Jim Starkey of Post 627 will be the master of ceremonies.

Pine River: The Pine River American Legion's annual Memorial Day ceremony will start at 9:30 a.m. at the dam in Pine River where Post Commander Terry Steele will speak. A wreath will be laid in the water in honor of soldiers lost at sea and a 21-gun salute and taps will be performed.

The ceremony will move to Pine Ridge Cemetery where a wreath will be laid at the base of the memorial accompanied by taps and a 21-gun salute, and a short speech by Steele.

A commemorative service to honor those who have served and those who sacrificed all during military service will be held at 11 a.m. at Swanburg Cemetery in Pine River. Pine River American Legion Post 613 will provide military honors with another speech by Steele.

Pequot Lakes: The Pequot Lakes American Legion Post 49 and Jenkins Veterans of Foreign Wars Northern Post 3839 will host an indoor memorial service at 10 a.m. in the Pequot Lakes High School auditorium.


The Pequot Lakes High School band will lead the national anthem. Guest speaker will be state Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point. Soloist Casey Derksen will sing various patriotic songs, including "God Bless America" at the event's conclusion with pianist Renee Anderson.

American Legion Auxiliary President Nina Hedstrom will read a list of the deceased veterans of the past year.

Pastor John Rister of the Backus Church of the Nazarene will deliver the Memorial Day address at Backus and Ponto Lake Cemeteries. Submitted Photo (May 2021)

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