25th annual veterans service at Austin church 'means a ton'

"That's what this service is all about. Honoring veterans and the families of those veterans, too."

Posted: May 20, 2019 3:59 AM
Updated: May 20, 2019 6:26 AM

AUSTIN, Minn. – Like most Sunday mornings, people are walking through the Grace Lutheran Church doors for Sunday service.

But there’s something special about this one. It’s the 25th annual Veterans Service.

“That's what this service is all about. Honoring veterans and the families of those veterans, too,” Randy Mickelson, veteran and organizer of the service, said.

He helped start the annual tradition when a couple members of the church asked for something like it.

At this year’s, retired army sergeant John Pitzen spoke.

“I've done two tours in Iraq, I've lived in Germany for two years, two years in Korea and I did a tour in Bosnia,” he said. “It's not just the veteran that sacrifices when the veteran is gone. The family has to pick up all the slack when the veteran is gone.”

The service thanked families of veterans with a round of applause.

Different flags representing all the different branches of the military were out, celebrating veterans of all branches and generations.

“You have the World War II veterans, Vietnam veterans, Iraq, Afghanistan veterans out here. It means a ton more than just donating money to something,” Pitzen said.

A statement that proved to be true as veterans of each branch were called to the front of the crowd while their respective song played.
Families and community members gave a standing ovation and applause.

It’s a message of appreciation Pitzen hopes will continue beyond the service and the church walls.

“I want to tell people how much it means to a veteran to have something like this for them. To just walk through an airport and have someone say thank you for your service. That goes a long way,” he said.

Grace Lutheran Church plans to continue the annual tradition and hopes it grows even more next year.
A celebratory lunch followed the veterans service.

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