Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 3, 2013

Northern Notes: A Memorial Day lesson

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — Recently, Memorial Day took on a whole new meaning for a group of 31 Suttons Bay seventh and eighth grade students, while they were on a May 15-19 educational tour of Washington, D.C.

The students visited several museums, memorials and Washington landmarks, as well as the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown, Pa. But the biggest impression came at the World War II Memorial when four “Honors Flight” buses pulled up just as the students were leaving.

The students had learned that America is losing World War II veterans at a rate of about 800 a day. The “Honors Flight’ they encountered was created to transport veterans and their companions or aides from anywhere in the nation to Washington to visit the memorial erected to recognize their sacrifice.

Instead of rushing toward the buses waiting to take them to the panda exhibit at the National Zoo, the students paused, spontaneously applauded and began shaking the hands of the arriving veterans and thanking them. The veterans, who didn’t expect to be greeted by smiling students in bright blue T-shirts, were surprised and humbled by the gesture. The students then formed a line to more methodically greet every veteran and shake each hand.

“The community has much to be proud of in the respectful way the students behaved,” said Cindy Crandall, a Suttons Bay teacher and director of the bi-annual event funded entirely by the students and their families. “But the lucky ones were the students and chaperones who received the added reminder of what and whom the memorial represents. It didn’t matter whether it was the Vietnam Wall, the Korean War Memorial or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, students and chaperones were reminded that our freedoms are not free.”

• Some Kaleva residents are connecting with their Finnish roots this summer.

In 1880, Johan Lundberg’s youngest son, Matti, left the family farm in Lohtaja, Finland, to find work in the coal mines of America. In 1900, his wife and children joined him in the Finnish mining community of Hanna, Wyo. Three years later, Matti and his sons, John and Matti Jr., were killed in a mining accident.

Anna Koski Lundberg and fellow mining widow Sofia Ringo and her children received a settlement from the Union Pacific Coal Mine and moved to Kaleva, where Anna used the settlement to purchase a farm. After a brief move back to Finland, the Lundberg family returned to Kaleva with the outbreak of World War I.

Now, descendants of Matti’s older brother, Johannes, are coming to Michigan to visit their American cousins and Lynda Walker and Dorothy Lundberg Lardie will have the pleasure of hosting five of their Finnish relatives from June 5 through 9. An old-fashioned American picnic is being planned and all the Lundbergs, Koskis, Makinens, Sochas and Ringos are invited, along with anyone else interested in meeting their visitors. For more information, call Walker, 944-9382, or Lardie, 947-6620.