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Area’s finest take part in Rugby ceremony

By Staff | Nov 15, 2013

Tim Chapman/PCT Rugby American Legion members and veterans (clockwise from back left) Duane Johnston, Ron Montonye, Larry Fjellanger and Ray Norsby present the Colors in the Veterans Day Program at Pierce County Memorial Hall.

About 300 people gathered at Pierce County Memorial Hall on Monday to pay tribute on Veterans Day.

N.D. Sen. Richard Marcellais delivered the Veterans Day Address and Sgt. 1st Class Kirk Seaver provided the Tribute to Veterans. About 40 veterans rose to applause as the Rugby High School band played the official music of each branch of the armed forces.

Marcellais, a Vietnam veteran and American Legion 3rd District Commander, informed the audience of the bills that reached the state legislature this year with a focus on bills affecting veterans.

“Being a veteran, I will still fight for veterans,” Marcellais said. “I will fight for them until I die because it’s important they get what they need.”

Marcellais expressed disappointment that a bill he introduced was passed in the Senate, but defeated in the House of Representatives. The bill called for North Dakota veterans – an estimated 1,000 die each year – to receive a casket from the state, customized with official seals of the branch each man or woman served in. The caskets would cost about $2,800 apiece for a yearly appropriation of about $2.8 million.

“I was very disappointed,” Marcellais said. “The state of North Dakota doesn’t honor veterans the way it should.”

Marcellais was pleased to announce the legislature had passed bills to help veterans, including one that included a provision of services to veterans exposed to “Agent Orange” during Vietnam. Another bill provides for more study into treating veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injuries and gathering of more information to support the needs of female veterans.

Seaver added his thoughts on the need to support female veterans, saying there are 1.2 million. He also reminded those in attendance of the suicide rate among veterans, which has reached one per day.

“We’re losing more service members by their own hands than by those they’re fighting,” Seaver said. “It’s up to us that every veteran feels his or her service to their country is appreciated. If a veteran shows signs of depression, encourage them to seek assistance from (Veteran Affairs). Offer support to loved ones left behind.”

Seaver also offered uplifting words by sharing a story of two young Marines, who lost their legs in battle. The Marines visited victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, who also lost limbs and encouraged them to embrace a new path in their lives.

The Ely Elementary School choir sang “God Bless America” with Galen Mack following Seaver’s address, and Rev. Mike Pretzer, pastor at First Lutheran Church in Rugby, gave the benediction.

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