In response: State law must be updated to ensure war dead continue to be honored – Duluth News Tribune

Minnesota Law 465.50 says Minnesota cities must cap spending on Memorial Day commemorations at $300 for 75,000 residents, as revealed in the March 18 “Local View” commentary, “the ruling of Memorial Day spends city funds contrary to state law.

However, that’s not the whole story.

What the column didn’t show was that the original law dates back to 1909. If the $300 is adjusted for inflation, the amount cities could spend on 75,000 people today would be $9,353. That’s the amount of dollars cities the size of Duluth could spend on a Memorial Day event if the law had kept pace with inflation and stayed true to what I believe was the original intent legislators.

Sadly, many politicians in Minnesota today don’t care enough about veterans, and they should be ashamed. This law has been revised several times over the decades – but always with the $300 amount maintained from 1909. I am motivated to bring this law to the Minnesota Legislature for amendment and for a necessary update since long time. I believe the original intent of our ancestors was to provide free Memorial Day events in Minnesota communities.

Memorial Day is actually not free: it has cost us more than 1.2 million human lives.

As a reminder, Memorial Day is a two-part event. In the morning, when we lower the flags, we weep and remember our war dead and their families. At noon, when we raise the flag at full staff, we celebrate their sacrifice for our nation and its interests by holding parades, picnics, and more. This is how we honor them!

The state of Minnesota currently has a budget surplus of nearly $9.3 billion. This indicates that Minnesotans were overtaxed by this amount. I’m afraid that we taxpayers won’t see that money again, that the lawmakers in St. Paul will waste it recklessly without setting aside enough for a rainy day.

The City of Duluth will receive a portion of this surplus, along with COVID-19 relief. Will city officials waste it complaining about a $4,000 parade? Really?

Many veterans in our community are fed up with paying anything for a Memorial Day parade. Cities should not charge veterans for this. Instead, cities should care enough about veterans and understand that our sacred war dead are the foundation of our republic. It strikes me as unconscionable for a city to ask veterans to honor their war dead.

Too many people in our society are not grateful for the service and sacrifices made by our men and women in the Armed Forces. As one of my mentors once said, “veterans are only sexy for one season and then forgotten.” So true.

Memorial Day is not about us veterans. It has always been and always will be to honor our war dead and support their families. Shame on Minnesota. Shame on Duluth.

John Marshall is captain of the Duluth honor guard. He served in the 41st Infantry Regiment in Iraq. He wrote it exclusively for the News Tribune.

John Marshall