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Paynesville Press - June 1, 2005

Community honors veterans, military members at annual Memorial Day services

By Michael Jacobson

There's a price to pay for freedom. Which veterans, past and present, are paying.

"For freedom is not free. It bears an enormous cost," said Major Steve Thielen, the guest speaker at the Memorial Day service at PAHS on Monday, in reminding the several hundred people in attendance that military members continue to serve this country.

memorial service "For a terrible price has been paid in blood to secure our way of life for future generations," said Thielen, a 1989 grad of EV-W High School and the son of Lloyd and Tess Thielen of Paynesville.

Major Steve Thielen and Paynesville post commander Larry Alstead bow their heads in prayer during the Memorial Day program at PAHS.

Over 40 million Americans have served their country in the military, said Thielen, from citizen-soldiers in the Revolutionary War to the current global War on Terrorism. He cited patriotic examples like Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who traded a million-dollar football contract for the Army Rangers and died in Afghanistan.

Americans have always been ready to do their duty when called. "They were all ordinary people living ordinary lives who answered the call in extraordinary times," said Thielen, who started his military career through ROTC at St. John's University, has served in armored cavalry units as a tank leader, has completed airborne and ranger training, and is currently an ROTC assistant professor and deputy inspector general for the Minnesota National Guard.

The crowd - including American Legion members, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and community members - gave Thielen a standing ovation.

In addition to Thielen's speech, the Memorial Day celebration in Paynesville included patriotic readings, martial ceremony, and patriotic music by "The Directors." Following the indoors program, the American flag was raised in front of the high school and then a color guard salute was given at the Paynesville Cemetery.

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