Serve #15 – Don V.


Serve #15

Serve #15 has a small town Americana feel to it. It starts with the long time tradition of the Memorial Day Parade in my hometown of Rockford, MN.  The parade is woven into the fabric of local families, myself included.  This little small-town-parade has the high school marching band, fire trucks, and last but not least, kids carrying flowers and flags bringing up the rear of this meaningful yearly tradition. Stopping on the bridge overlooking the Crow River the band plays a hymn and the children throw their flowers in the river to honor those lost at sea.  It doesn’t just end there.  The parade continues a short, winding path through the streets, followed by the parade watchers, and up to the local cemetery that overlooks the tranquil countryside split by the Crow River. Once all assemble within the boundaries of Elmwood Cemetery, the Lions begin the yearly commemoration by asking the band to perform a couple musical pieces, then one of the Lions reads the names of those that have served and are buried under the headstones that dot the hillside cemetery.

     This year though was a different one.  One of the longstanding local guys by the name of Don V. was not present on his normal corner spot.  He has proudly sat at the corner of Bridge St. and Lieder St. for many years with a Korean Vet hat sitting on his head, waving to other locals and the children all while holding a small flag on a stick.  This year I found him sitting in the cemetery waiting for the crowd to assemble. There is a pride in this man that runs deep.  Maybe it is the farming blood that courses through his veins, or the service he gave to his country as a truck driver in the U.S. Army in the war in Korea, maybe it is being the only living charter member of the Rockford Lions, or maybe it was his years serving as a leader in the local  4H group that was in Rockford, or on the Wright County Fair board. Don served in so many ways that it was really hard to talk about just one.  I asked him why he served, he said, “Because.”  What wonderfully complex and yet simplistic response.  Meeting great people like him causes me to realize that we need to have a vision for the future, to change our communities by being more like this wonderful 84 year old man.

Thank you Don for serving your country,  your family, and the Rockford area.


Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375
“Tell Your Story”


Posted on May 31, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. nielsenstudios

    Thank you!

  2. Grandma Janice

    Dear Shawn,

    This is beautiful. Your writings always bring tears to my eyes…sometimes happy tears and at other times, like your writing about Don, tears course down my face as I see his heart and your heart for those you write about. Thank you for all you do and for sharing your stories…..the stories of those God puts in your path.

    I wanted to mention I was sorry to miss Josh and Anna Rose’s wedding. Cristina invited us two Sundays before the wedding, but we had no idea where the wedding was. We don’t do the modern ways of communicating so miss out on important events sometimes. I trust all went well. I did pray for the happy couple and have continued to pray for you and Cristine as you process this new season. I love you. Give your Sweetheart a hug for me please.

    Grandma Janice

  3. Randy Hatanpa

    Once again…beautiful.

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