by Jim Boyle
A statewide effort to raise money for the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial education center will make a pit stop in Otsego on Thursday at Veterans Memorial Sports Complex, 7350 Quaday Ave.
The Ride for Healing, which starts on Memorial Day in St. Paul and concludes in the Brainerd area, will include 60 stopping points, according to the Department of Minnesota Veterans of Foreign Wars has announced.
“This is monumental,” said Jim Hesselgrave, a member of the Elk River-Rogers VFW Post 5518. “There have been welcome home events, but they have been centralized.”
The Elk River-Rogers VFW will host a rally at noon May 30 at the Veterans Memorial Sports Complex in Otsego. All veterans and members of the Elk River and Otsego communities are invited.
State Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Lee Ulferts has asked that all communities statewide gather for an event honoring the sacrifice and service of Vietnam veterans.
Ulferts, a combat-wounded veteran of Vietnam, said the ride will also give communities a chance to contribute to the cause of building the Education Center at the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“This Center will help remind the Nation of the trauma suffered by these veterans,” he said. “I see this as a ‘healing’ process and the welcome home that many Vietnam veterans never received.”
The Education Center at the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial will house the legacy of the Vietnam veteran generation and their sacrifices, Ulferts said.
The week will start at the Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial in St. Paul on May 27 with four teams departing for a statewide ride covering more than 60 communities and end in Brainerd on May 31 for a two-day event.
“This ride will reach out to areas that haven’t been touched with a statewide welcome home and at the same time raise money to help memorialize what Vietnam veterans sacrificed for generations to come,” Hesselgrave said.
The Otsego event will last from noon to 2 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Sports Complex.
A state VFW official will deliver a message honoring and thanking Vietnam veterans for their service.