By Emily Bialkowski
Caledonia’s Memorial Day celebration will honor those who sacrificed everything for their country, as it has in the past, but this year will also feature a veterans choir composed of only those who served.
Under the direction of Jacolyn Mechtel, three pieces will be performed during the Monday morning program, which begins at 9:30 a.m. May 27.
Mechtel, a self-described Army brat, said she was approached by David Klinski on conducting the choir.
“He was looking for some activity that could involve all veterans in the area,” Mechtel said. “Music is an important part of the Armed Services and he said he felt a choir would be a really purposeful way to get all veterans involved.”
Together the two decided 15 participants would be a good goal in terms of making sure the effort got off the ground. The group solidified with 28, and they began rehearsing each Sunday evening for an hour and half in April.
“They have been so enthusiastic, committed and hard-working – what a heroic thing these veterans are doing to put themselves out there like that. All of these veterans have gotten outside their comfort zone. I give them all the credit in the world.”
The music selection includes “Tell My Father,” “In Flanders Fields” and “Song for the Unsung Hero,” selections Mechtel said reflect the spirit of what veterans experienced in service.
“It’s going to be full of home-spun artistry and heartfelt communication to the audience. I’m very proud of them,” Mechtel said.
The program will begin with the presentation of the colors and will be followed with the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance.
An invocation by Sr. Michaeline Healy will be provided as well as a selection titled “Armed Forces Salute” by the Caledonia Area High School Band.
The guest speaker is Jon Wolff, a local pastor and Army veteran.
Lindsay Mackie will provide an introduction to “In Flanders Field,” and awards will be given to the following individuals:
• Loveless-Eikens Post 191 American Legion Scholarship – Irene Abbott, Vanessa Rud and Alex Varney
• American Legion Citizenship Award – Collin Coffield
• Loveless-Eikens Post 191 American Legion Auxiliary Scholarship – Levi Schmitz and Alex Varney
• American Legion Auxiliary Citizenship Award – Angela Augedahl
• Sons of the American Legion Squadron 191 Scholarship – Alex Varney
The ceremony will conclude with a placing of a wreath, benediction, firing squad and taps.