MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – This weekend we honor our veterans, the men and women who serve our country and preserve our freedom.
In honor of them, we went looking for the best VFW or American Legion in Minnesota.READ MORE: Maple Grove Man Convicted Of Murder In Wife's Shooting Death
Everyone has their favorite, but your votes sent Natalie Nyhus to Walker American Legion Post 134.
You’d be hard pressed to find a place where words like honor, community and tradition mean more than they do to the town of Walker.
Their American Legion Post 134 has invited 5th and 6th grade students to a ceremonial American flag retirement.
“They are really learning what the importance of the flag is to the country and how to properly go about retiring a flag,” said 6th grade teacher Breah Johnson.
Guard Commander Jeff Anderson was a part of the ceremony.
“A lot of the kids remember this,” he said. “It sticks with them for a long time.”
It’s the symbol of our country and the symbol of freedom — bought and paid for by men like Gary “Dutch” Schulz, Commander of Legion Post 134.
“The Walker Legion creates a sense of community because we are open to the public,” Schulz said.
The American Legion is more than a corner bar.
“To be involved in a Legion is a big healing thing,” Anderson said. “No matter what war you’ve been in, all veterans have seen the same things. You can go to the legion and talk about the different things in a comfortable setting.”READ MORE: ‘Our Business is Down Over 50%’: Deadly St. Paul Bar Shooting Impacts Surrounding Businesses
Even if you’re not a veteran, it’s a place you can belong, too.
“The No. 1 reason people voted us the best legion is the way we welcome people in our doors,” Schulz said.
It was a single room until about nine years ago, when the vets completely renovated and expanded to what it is today.
“The Legion in Walker is the place to be for entertainment,” Anderson said.
They host events just about every day of the week.
“We have a meat raffle Sunday afternoons,” Schulz said. “Usually the place gets packed.”
And it doesn’t slow down. From bingo and karaoke to wedding receptions, it’s the town center.
“It is a place where a lot of the community members really come together, socialize, hold events and benefits,” Johnson said. “They hold blood drives down there. They bring a lot of community sense to everyone in the area.”
And those who never made it home are remembered, too. A single place setting remains set for prisoners of war and those missing in action: salt for the tears of loved ones waiting and an inverted glass because they cannot toast with fellow vets.
“The main thing is that we don’t forget the people who have laid their lives down in the past so we can be here today,” said Anderson.
That’s something of particular importance this Memorial Day weekend, a time for remembrance and celebration. Because patriotism isn’t something we are born with. It’s something we learn.MORE NEWS: None Hurt After Shots Fired Inside Plymouth Movie Theater
“We are trying to teach the younger generation the importance of patriotism and our flag,” Schulz said. “So many of our veterans gave the ultimate price, their life, protecting our freedom.”