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Memorial Day observances planned for Monday

A former Hastings resident, who has served this country for more than 20 years, will be the Hastings Memorial Day speaker Monday, May 31. Col. Jeffrey McDougall of the United States Army has been deployed twice to Bosnia-Herzegovina and twice to Iraq.

The Hastings community will honor those men and women who served the country and those who did not return in ceremonies planned at four Hastings locations.

The Lyle Russell Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1210 and Nelson Lucking American Legion Post 47, and their auxiliaries, sponsor the Memorial Day programs.

The observances begin at 9 a.m. at the Minnesota Veterans Home Hastings, with a flag ceremony, followed by a 10 a.m. program at Roadside Park. About 20 minutes after the Roadside Park program, short ceremonies will be held at Soldiers and Sailors Cemetery on West First Street and at the Levee Veterans Memorial along the Mississippi River.

At the Roadside Park ceremony, Gordon Gathright will sing the national anthem; the Rev. Paris Pasch will offer the invocation; Mayor Paul Hicks will give the welcome. The master of ceremonies will be James Holmes.

The VFW Voice of Democracy essay finalist Cody McNary and the Patriot Pen essay contests winner Dylan Lynch will present their readings. The American Legion Boys State representative Daniel Green will be recognized.

McDougall was born in Minnesota and raised in Hastings, graduating from Hastings High School in 1986. In high school he was very involved in school and community activities, including football, basketball, track and choir. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout while a member of Boy Scout Troop 534; he was selected as the Hastings representative to the American Legion Boy State of Minnesota program. He was active in St. Philip's Lutheran Church youth group.

Following graduation, McDougall attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in 1990 and was commissioned as an officer in the Army. Over the next 20 years, he and his family were stationed in Colorado, Kentucky, Germany, Kansas, Texas, and now, Pennsylvania. He is currently attending the U.S. Army College at Carlisle Barracks, and upon graduation, will be reassigned to Florida to earn a doctorate in Operations Research.

During his most recent deployment to Iraq, McDougall served the Multi-National Corps Iraq's Chief of Plans from 2006 to 2008 and was responsible for developing the operational concept that implemented the deployment and the utilization of "Surge" forces in Iraq.

His military honors and decorations include the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service medal, Humanitarian Service medal, and NATO medal. He earned master's degrees in operations research, and military arts and science, and strategic studies.

McDougall and his wife, Jennifer, have three children, Conner, age 16, Ryan, 16, and Bailey, 9.

His parents live in Denmark Township and operate McDougall's Apple Junction.

Following McDougall's speech, a moment of silence will be observed as a tribute to Gold Star mothers Ruth Swanson and Marilee Carlson. Commanders and auxiliary presidents of the veteran's service organizations will place wreaths at the memorials.

During the weekend prior to Memorial Day, American flags and bronze star markers will be placed on more than 1,000 graves in area cemeteries.

A special display of the Minuteman statue, Commander's coin presented by the National Guard Company C, 834th Aviation Support Battalion, and the American Flag flown over its headquarters in Iraq, is in place at City Hall and can be viewed during business hours the week of May 31.

All Memorial Day observances are open to the community. Lawn chairs are recommended for the Roadside Park program.

In case of bad weather, the events will be held at 10 a.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church.