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Honoring our Veterans

Honoring our Veterans

County Connections Veterans Service Officer Pat Strand

COOK COUNTRY, MINNESOTA May 22, 2020  (LSN) Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while defending our nation in their service with the U.S. Military.   Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, began after the Civil War ended in the spring of 1865.  The Civil War claimed more lives (620,000 or more) than any other conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.  People mourning their loss began to lay flowers and place flags on the graves of the fallen. 

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War Veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month.  He chose the 30th of May, 1868, as a day to decorate the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion and whose bodies now lay in the churchyards of almost every city, village and hamlet in the country.  The 30th was chosen by General Logan because it wasn’t the anniversary of any specific battle.  General Logan called it Decoration Day.

The origin of the current name of the holiday is unclear, but in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, as the official birthplace of “Memorial Day.”  The city established their Memorial Day on May 5th, 1866.  Decoration Day originally honored only those lost in the Civil War but, during World War I, the holiday evolved to commemorate all American military personnel who died in all wars.   In 1968 Congress officially declared Memorial Day a federal holiday and established it as the last Monday in May, creating a three-day weekend for federal employees.

Let us never forget why Memorial Day exists and take time to honor our fallen Veterans.  Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.  Please take a moment to remember those who sacrificed their lives for your freedom.

Many, if not most, of the regular Memorial Day events are canceled or will be broadcast by some means this year due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). American Legion Post 413 will hold a shortened Memorial Day program at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, May 25 in front of the Veteran’s Memorial at the courthouse.  Please wear a mask and practice social distancing if you choose to stand on the grounds by the memorial for this event.


Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (“MDVA”) and Twin Cities PBS-TPT have partnered to broadcast a 30-minute Memorial Day program called “Always Remember: A Minnesota Tribute to Veterans we’ve lost” across the state on TPT’s Minnesota Channel at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 25.


Some ideas to honor Veterans: call a Veteran family member, teach a child what it means to be a Veteran/about Memorial Day, ask a Veteran about their service, hang a flag in your yard, place flowers at a Veteran’s memorial or grave, write to an active duty Veteran you know thanking them for keeping your family safe, wear a poppy on Memorial Day, or donate to a Veterans organization.  The list goes on and does not have to start or end with Memorial Day. 

Tips for Veterans:

  • The County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO) provides Veterans and eligible family members a connection to state and federal VA programs such as Pension, Aid & Attendance, VA Health Care, Compensation, and numerous other benefits. The CVSO can help you discover your eligibility for benefits and assist you in accessing them.
  • Grants are available for Veterans who can demonstrate a financial loss on or after March 13, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Contact your CVSO or go to for more information.  
  • Apply for a copy of your military health and personnel records and your DD 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) by visiting the website at Contact the CVSO for assistance. These can be very important in filing a compensation claim.
  • It is best to record your DD 214 at your county Recorder’s Office in case it is misplaced.  If it is recorded, you can get a certified copy at the Recorder’s Office in any county in the state of Minnesota.

Please remember and honor our fallen.  Have a very safe and healthy Memorial Day and remember to practice social distancing and wash your hands!

“In the aftermath, we are because they were.” - RJ Heller

The CVSO is generally available by phone during business hours on weekdays (but only until 1 pm on Fridays) at 218-387-3639 or 218-264-9092.  Please leave a message so that your call can be returned.   You may also email, mail Cook County Veteran Services at 411 E 2nd St, Grand Marais, MN 55604, or use the drop box at the main courthouse door.

By: Cook County Veterans Service Officer Pat Strand

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service.

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About Cook County Minnesota

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Cook County is at the tip of Minnesota's Arrowhead region in the remote northeastern part of the state, stretching from the shores of Lake Superior to the US-Canada border. By land it borders Ontario, Canada to the north, and Lake County, MN to the west.  The highest point in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain is 2,301 feet and the highest lake,  Total Area equals 3,339.72 sq miles

Cook County is home to three national protected areas:
Grand Portage National Monument
Superior National Forest
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Cook County include:
 Grand Marais     Lutsen Mountains
 Gunflint Trail      Superior Hiking Trail
 Grand Portage 

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