‘What Memorial Day is Really All About’: Northlanders Honor Veterans, Fallen Troops Sunday

"Really good to see the people here, to know that there are people that are very caring about remembering, what Memorial Day is really all about," Brad Bennett said.

DULUTH, Minn.- On Sunday the Northland observed what many call “traditional Memorial Day” to honor those who gave their lives in war, at the Northland Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Lakewalk.

“136 names on our wall, of local veterans, or not veterans because they’re still in uniform,” said Dwight Nelson, Secretary of the Northland Vietnam Veterans Association.

The nearly 30-year tradition of honoring the troops who made the ultimate sacrifice continued by Lake Superior.

“It was very emotional for me,” veteran Brad Bennett said. “Because I remember some guys that are on our wall that I had met, that never made it back.”

After last year’s ceremony was smaller and closed to the public due to the pandemic, this year the Lakewalk was packed with veterans, their families, and loved ones who lost family in the war.

“And it’s good to be able to do it again to remember those that weren’t fortunate enough to enjoy Memorial Day,” said Bennett, a twice-wounded Vietnam vet.

The Memorial honors veterans from 6 counties in Minnesota and the two northwest counties of Wisconsin.

While some veterans at the ceremony may have never met those men and women, they say they are united in their service.

“None of us ever served together,” Nelson said. “Maybe didn’t have the same experiences but it’s a brotherhood that, I’ve been a part of the brotherhood for 50 years.”

The Northland Vietnam Veterans Association also has a foundation which awards scholarships to area students.

Requirements include writing an essay and interviewing a vet about their experience.

The foundation has awarded more than $92,000 in scholarships.

“Usually these kids, they have relatives that were involved in the service and many of them want to go into the medical field which is something we love and want them to be involved in,” said Bennett.

“So it just helps us, makes us feel good that we’re doing something positive with some of the money that we’ve raised over the years,” he said.

Giving back to the community, who came out to help honor those who gave all for their country.

“Really good to see the people here, to know that there are people that are very caring about remembering, what Memorial Day is really all about,” Bennett said.

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