Yellow Ribbon proclamation in Willmar, Minn., expected to draw large crowd
WILLMAR -- Since being declared an official "Yellow Ribbon" city in 2010, Willmar community volunteers have worked hard to support active military, the families of deployed service members and veterans.
Now Willmar will be the host site when four other communities receive the official recognition of being a Yellow Ribbon city or county.
On Dec. 7 representatives from Renville County, Lac qui Parle County, Appleton and the Morris area will be here during a Yellow Ribbon proclamation ceremony.
The event will also feature Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota National Guard's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Rick Nash and Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, Larry Shellito.
The 3 p.m. event at the Evangelical Free Church, 1305 19th Ave. S.W., is expected to draw 400 people. It is open to the public.
"It is a big deal," said Trisha Appeldorn, Kandiyohi County Veterans Service Officer, who worked with local Yellow Ribbon volunteers to organize the event.
The process of recognizing new Yellow Ribbon communities can only be held in a town that is already a Yellow Ribbon community, said Appeldorn, which is one reason why Willmar was chosen.
"It's an honor to be asked," she said, adding that this community has a solid reputation and is considered the "gold standard" for taking care of its veterans, active military and their family members. Appeldorn said communities that are trying to establish the necessary format for being a Yellow Ribbon organization are encouraged to visit Willmar to see how a well-run program can work.
Appeldorn said getting the Yellow Ribbon designation is one thing, but maintaining all the volunteer efforts year after year and going "beyond the yellow ribbon" is another.
A core group of eight to 10 people meet monthly to plan activities, including responding to needs of veterans and families that have a spouse that's deployed.
"It's nice to know so many people care in this community," said Appeldorn, who said she tells veterans they are lucky to be a veteran in Minnesota "but they are really lucky to be a veteran in Kandiyohi County."
Local volunteers secured the site, and they will decorate for the Dec. 7 event and provide a light meal for those that attend.
"It'll be a nice event," she said.