LONG LAKE — Honoring veterans from all chapters of the United States military and all U.S. wars with a special focus on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Lake Minnetonka Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution hosted a Veterans Day program at Trinity Lutheran Church in Long Lake.

The event featured several speakers including Minnetonka High School student Eric Quam, who recently visited France and many of the sites of World War II, including the beaches of Normandy.

“Another way we can honor our veterans is to take some time every day to reflect on what we have and remember those who have made it possible, even if there is not a veteran around to thank, we honor their sacrifices when we appreciate what they have made possible for us,” Quam said.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Maureen Banvige also spoke at the event. Banvige was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for her actions during the Global War on Terrorism, according to the Lake Minnetonka DAR.

“Stepping back to Sept. 8, 2001, just three days before, as we know, the world changed. I was at a military ball and the officer of the military air force command came to speak, which was a huge honor for him to come to Minnesota,” Banvige recalled during her speech. “I remember the words that he said because just a few days later, they turned out to be prophetic. We all have to be ready to defeat the enemy, not 60/40, not 80/20, we all have to be prepared to beat the enemy 100 to 0 every single time. He said it was incumbent on all of us in a uniform to be ready whenever that call came because he said, if not you, then who? And if not now, then when?”

Banvige continued on to tell the stories of several men and women who answered the call to serve. Banvige currently serves as mobilization assistant to the commander, Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, according to the DAR.

Gary Nash, who served as an infantry captain in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War from May 1967-February 1969, spoke at the event about D-Day and Omaha Beach, and how weather played a role in victories of World War II. Nash grew up in Minneapolis and attended the University in Minnesota. Nash and his wife, Margie, live in Chanhassen.

The DAR presented two Quilts of Valor to two D-Day veterans. The Quilts of Valor Foundation was founded in 2003 by Catherine Roberts, while her son was deployed in Iraq. The organization’s goal is “to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor,” the foundation’s website says.

The first went to Army veteran Alvin Donahoo, who was not able to attend the event but lives at Lake Minnetonka Shores in Spring Park and recently turned 101 years old, according to the DAR. The second went to Navy veteran Roger Pickering. Both stormed the beaches at Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Pickering was presented with his quilt by DAR Regent Gigi Hickey. Pickering’s nephew, Jim Berg, then gave a rendition of “God Bless the U.S.A.” to honor his uncle.

Frances Stevenson is a reporter for the Lakeshore Weekly News, covering the communities around Lake Minnetonka.

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