Red Wing becomes Yellow Ribbon cityCommunities often rally around soldiers to send them off or welcome them home, but the Red Wing area has made the commitment to help service members and their families beyond those times as well.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
Communities often rally around soldiers to send them off or welcome them home, but the Red Wing area has made the commitment to help service members and their families beyond those times as well.
The city officially was recognized as a Yellow Ribbon community during a ceremony in the newly remodeled Red Wing National Guard Armory on Saturday.
“The city of Red Wing has a longstanding tradition of supporting service members, veterans and their families,” said Annette Kuyper, director of military outreach for the state of Minnesota. She cited visible examples such the flags at Bay Point Park during Memorial Day weekend and the new flag on Barn Bluff alongside assistance provided by local residents and businesses to military families.
The designation stems from work done by the Hiawatha Valley Family Yellow Ribbon committee. Its goal is not only to aid those who are serving, but also to point any veterans in the right direction for help when they return home.
For example, the group plans to start a mentoring program to help returning service members find jobs and a support group for military members’ children, Kuyper said.
And even though Red Wing has the official title, the services extend outside the community to include all of Goodhue County, Pierce County and parts of Dakota and Wabasha counties, committee members said.
“It’s a large responsibility the steering committee has taken on for Red Wing,” Capt. Scott Hawks, commander of the 434th Chemical Company, said.
Gov. Mark Dayton, who attended Saturday’s event, emphasized that the needs of military personnel go beyond their time of service.
“Beyond the yellow ribbon are those challenges” such as coming back to society, finding jobs and dealing with changes such as children get older, he said.
Dayton said military families need support as well.
“Spouses … are making an enormous sacrifice also,” he said.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Bertrang said by the end of the year 100 entities — cities, counties or other organizations — will be Yellow Ribbon groups.
Even still, Red Wing stands out.
“Your community has gone over and above,” Kuyper told the crowd Saturday. “You’ve made a real commitment to support service members.”
Dayton echoed that sentiment and told the crowd Red Wing’s designation is “a great tribute to all of you.”
The Yellow Ribbon proclamation landed just before a week of Veterans Day events in the area, including dinners, collecting donations for care packages and a show at the Sheldon Theatre around the Nov. 11 holiday.
Saturday’s open house also was a time to celebrate the grand reopening of the armory. Work at the building included redesigning the front entry, replacing doors, windows, electrical, air conditioning, heating, plumbing and communication systems and other upgrades and maintenance.