PRESTON, MN. – As the veterans cemetery in Preston prepares for Memorial Day, the staff also acknowledge the benefits of a caring and generous community.
“We are so fortunate to receive support from the community,” says Cemetery Administrator Robert Gross. “One example is an electric vehicle that improves access to visitors.”
The six-passenger electric vehicle donated in 2019 was a collaborative donation from the 1st District Commander of the American Legion, Tri-State Area Legion, VFW, DAV, Auxiliary Groups and private donations. Donors wanted to provide easier access to burial sections for anyone who is experiencing ambulatory issues, as well as providing the cemetery administration team the ability to offer tours to visitors during pre-registration visits.
“During a visit, a spouse of a veteran who was interred in our inground cremation section informed me that due to ambulation issues, she had never been able to see her husband’s memorial marker in person,” Gross recalls. “With the electric vehicle, we were able to gain access to the row of her husband’s gravesite. From there, she was able to walk to the stone. She sat with her husband for 10 to 15 minutes. To us, this is a truly impactful example of customer service and providing our families with the highest level of care and attention.”
The beautiful grounds of the veterans cemetery have benefitted from several donations over the years, including a Ventrac machine (a “jack of all trades” all-weather lawn care device that serves as a finish mower with vacuum ability), fertilizer spreader/sprayer, and a snow thrower and broom for clearing streets and walkways in the winter months.
Donations to the Minnesota State Veterans Cemeteries are welcome and are tax deductible. More information on donations is available at MinnesotaVeteran.org/Donate.
While COVID restrictions are beginning to ease, MDVA made the decision several months ago to hold a virtual Memorial Day program again this year. “We look forward to hosting our traditional in-person Memorial Day Program next year,” says Gross.
MDVA has again partnered with Twin Cities PBS-TPT to create a 30-minute Memorial Day program entitled “Reflections: Memorial Day 2021” that will be broadcast across the state on TPT’s Minnesota Channel at 8 p.m. on Monday, May 31 and again on Sunday, June 6 at 8 a.m. A link to the program will also be posted on the MDVA website. The program will include remarks from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Commissioner Herke, personal stories about those we have lost and honor on Memorial Day, music and a rifle salute traditionally included in a live event.
The three State Veterans Cemeteries remain open and visitors are welcome to visit every day, and especially on Memorial Day when American flags will be displayed along the entrance street and on all graves in the Cemeteries.
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) is a cabinet-level state agency dedicated to serving Minnesota Veterans and their families. In addition to overseeing the five State Veterans Homes, MDVA helps eligible Veterans and families secure state and federal benefits and provides programs and services relating to higher education, benefits, burial, claims, outreach and Veterans employment. Veterans and their families are encouraged to visit www.MinnesotaVeteran.org or call 1-(888)-LinkVet for more information about benefits.