Farmington's Patriotic Celebration speakers share Honor Flight story
FARMINGTON — The 19th annual Patriotic Celebration will be held Thursday, Nov. 8 at Farmington High School.
A free pork chop dinner will be served by volunteers and Farmington City Council. The meal is served at 5 p.m. and the ceremony commences at 7 p.m. in the recital hall. The celebration honors the service and sacrifice of local veterans and this year will spotlight the Honor Flight. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is also planning to speak during the ceremony.
"This shows that patriotism is above party and we are there to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments, and it is because of these men and women's valiant efforts that people have the right to join a political party and say what they want to say," said event leader Dr. Steven Geis, principal at North Trail Elementary in Farmington.
This year's program theme is the Honor Flight and keynote speakers will be Jerry and Jana Kyser, leaders with the Honor Flight Twin Cities.
In May 2004, the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. commemorated the sacrifices of the "Greatest Generation." Since many veterans could not visit the monuments due to age, health concerns or financial constraints, the Honor Flight program was founded.
The Honor Flight Twin Cities, a program originated by Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Charity, offers free flights for World War II and Korean War veterans to travel to witness the monuments in Washington D.C.
Since May 2005, Honor Flight has transported more than 210,000 veterans and 150,000 guardians to witness the memorials.
The local Honor Flight Twin Cities began flights in October 2008. Today the group has taken 1,533 World War II veterans and 208 Korean War veterans along with 1,467 guardians on 20 Honor Flights.
Farmington VFW Post Commander Ron Ersfeld was honored to be chosen to take an Honor Flight in October 2016. Ersfeld served as a staff sergeant in the Korean War after enlisting in the U.S. Air Force in 1951.
"The Honor Flight just celebrated its 20th flight on Sept. 29, and we are honored to have the Kysers speak at the celebration," said Geis.
For more about the Honor Flight Twin Cities, visit www.honorflighttwincities.org.
The patriotic program includes music from local choirs and talents from Farmington Public Schools.
Farmington high men's choir will perform "I Hear America Sing" and an elementary choir will harmonize to sing "This Land is Your Land" and "Thank You Soldiers."
Brian Ohnsorg, choral director at Farmington High School, will sing "God Bless America" and Megan Dimich will perform "The Star Spangled Banner."
The Voice of Democracy winner Maya O'Reilly will be reading her essay during the ceremony.
The student master of ceremonies will be Farmington High School junior Tommy Gallagher.
Each month during the year, event organizers come together to nail down a theme, an agenda and talk about a new, inspiring Patriotic Celebration complete with new speakers and music.
Last year volunteers served 1,375 free pork chop dinners.
Community partners and volunteers give time and support. This includes support from local businesses, Farmington Lions Club, Farmington Knights of Columbus, local churches and Farmington Ministerial Association.
The group pools human and financial resources to offer a free community dinner with a price tag that costs between $5,000 and $7,000 to cover food and transportation for busing many veterans.
Geis said the event has highlighted 25 to 30 different themes and honored local veterans while spotlight stories of war and peace and service and sacrifice.
Next year, the committee has plans to highlight the history and story of the Farmington Yellow Ribbon Network. Farmington was the first city to be named a Yellow Ribbon city in Minnesota.