Honoring our veterans

Courtesy photo: This picture hangs at the VFW No. 2118 Post Home. On the back of the picture, this information was found. The date of the note or author’s name are not known. All these men are from Brookings County. Front row, from left: George Dokken, Bill Egeberg and Elmer Egeberg. The rest of the row was not identified. Top row, from left: second man, Oscar Albins; fourth man, Axel Thompson; sixth man, Clarence Philipson. The rest of this row is not identified. They left Brookings on April 26, 1918. They spent one week at Camp Funston, Kansas (part of Fort Riley, Kansas). They were then transported to New York, where they boarded a ship for an 11-day voyage to England and then on to France. The first battle was Saint Mihiel from Sept. 12-15, 1918, and the second battle was in the Argonne Forest, Meuse-Argonne from Sept. 26-Nov. 11, 1918.

BROOKINGS – World War I was the war to end all wars, yet, 100 years later there are “conflicts” in many areas of the world. No longer a central location or theatre of war, the world is still in turmoil.

On Nov. 5, 1918, a Brookings family, the Knute Dokken family, received that dreaded notice of a family member killed in action. George Dokken, 22, had been killed in the Argonne Forest, France.

The family was told that Dokken’s company had settled in for the night when an incoming shell landed near Dokken and three others in his company. Three were killed.

Dokken was buried with his fellow comrades. Three years later, his exhumed remains were brought home for burial.

At the time of his funeral, the military band from South Dakota State College and the American Legion led the procession. Interment was at Greenwood Cemetery.

In 1931, local veterans who had served overseas again banded together to form the Brookings Veterans of Foreign Wars Post. Minutes from that first meeting show that it was a unanimous vote to name the newly formed post the George Dokken VFW Post, No. 2118.

The VFW Post, then and now, has a steadfast purpose: to continue to serve veterans. Over the years the members have served the community in many ways. 

On Nov. 11, Veterans Day, the community has the opportunity to come together to remember and to thank veterans. It is our turn to honor the veterans that have kept us free.

The veterans service organizations in Brookings come together each year for a time to honor and remember their fellow soldiers, past, present and future.  The veterans plan the event, they present the traditions and express the pride they have in their country and their service to their country.  All the community needs to do is attend.

The Veterans Day service will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Swiftel Center. Following the service, everyone is invited to the Brookings County Veterans Memorial at Western Avenue and Eighth Street.   The 24-hour vigil kept by the SDSU Air Force ROTC will end with a flyover. Starting on Nov. 10, the ROTC cadets stand 30-minute guard detail until  the 11th day of the 11th month until 11:11 a.m. in honor of veterans.

Following the flyover at 11:11 a.m., everyone is invited to the VFW post home at 520 Main Ave. for a potluck dinner. This is a time for memories and a gathering of new and old friends. It is also a time for the community to show our pride in veterans, the country and its heritage.

This year, at 2 p.m. the celebration of freedom will be extended at the VFW George Dokken Post No. 2118 to include a 100th anniversary of George Dokken’s ultimate sacrifice. His sacrifice has provided the dedicated veterans of this community a common ground to continue service to their fellow man.

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