SW MN Veteran’s Event at Arnesen’s A Big Success
When Lance Peterson started organizing an event to take veterans fishing up at Arnesen’s Rocky Point on Lake of the Woods, he never imagined it could end up so great. Peterson’s good friend was the first MN soldier killed in the Gulf War. “To the Arnesen’s, I want to thank you again for letting me place this stone by the flag.This was my dream to honor my friend Steve Benzlin the first MN man to be killed in the Gulf War in 1991. I grew up with him in a small town of 400 people. To have all the help from people I didn’t know is so humbling. I can’t in words describe how I felt seeing a dream of mine come true. It totally exceeded my expectations and blew me away,” explains Peterson from Wood Lake, MN. Although Peterson was the organizer, Peterson’s wife Tammy and a number of volunteers have been working on this event planning and pulling together to make this event special for veterans this past weekend.
Eight veterans from southern MN were provided a fishing trip to Lake of the Woods with everything provided through the Cottonwood, MN Area Sportsman’s Club, a division of the Hayward, WI Fishing Has No Boundaries group. In addition, Dave Morse who is the host of American Heroes Outdoor TV brought 5 veterans and with other volunteers, there were a total of 30 veterans and 80 people overall. This event was filmed for American Heroes Outdoors and will air March, 2017.
Veterans arrived at Arnesen’s led by the Roseau County Sheriff’s Department, Border Patrol and members of the Patriot Guard on motorcycles. Once at Arnesen’s on Thursday night after a well received and emotional introduction, everyone had a chance to meet, have dinner and get to know each other.
Friday after breakfast, veterans had the chance to fish The Walleye Capital of the World. A number of volunteers brought their own personal boats to take veterans out fishing. And fish they did, catching good numbers of fish with the big fish of the weekend coming in at 30.5″, a true Lake of the Woods trophy. After fishing, participants were treated to a fish fry. Two couples volunteered to cook all of the fish and from the sounds of it, this wasn’t their first rodeo, the fresh walleye and sauger was delicious. After some quality group time around the campfire, folks headed off to bed to rest up for another action packed day on Saturday.
After breakfast and another successful day of fishing, participants came in and enjoyed a cookout. At 7:30pm, with the signature Arnesen’s sunset on the horizon, there was a very touching medals ceremony honoring veterans present, all veterans and giving special mention to Vietnam veterans who did not receive the welcome home they deserved back in the day. The gratitude, honor, pride, thankfulness and emotions ran high as veterans were recognized.
As often it happens, one seeks out to give back and receives more in return than they gave. “Other than my marriage, this was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life”, explains Peterson. “It was so emotional all weekend. This touched me and so many others. We are already making plans for next year!”
There are a variety of veterans events that are held up at Lake of the Woods. Caring people pull together to honor, recognize and celebrate veterans. And of course, healing, we all hope, takes place. No matter how many veterans events that are held, there are veterans that are getting missed and benefit from events like this one. Not being a veteran, one thing I am coming to realize is although they are home, for many, the battle rages on. They still need support, recognition, and care.
A big thank you to everyone involved in this SW MN Veterans’ event this past weekend at Arnesen’s. Whether you volunteered, helped plan, took veterans fishing, donated product to the event or simply recognized a veteran for their service, thank you!