The city of Stacy and Citizens Supporting Our Armed Forces (CSOAF) hosted the 4th annual Red Bull Military Appreciation June 23-24.
The ceremonies commenced Saturday morning with a Motorcycle Run along Forest Boulevard. from Stacy to Rush City. There were 96 motorcycle riders participating in this show of machine and caring and support for U.S. military personnel and veterans.
Sunday brought local community members and visitors to Doyle Field for events that included speakers, food provided by the Stacy and North Branch Lions Clubs, games, prizes, and a large display of military memorabilia courtesy of the Crystal Military Museum and the American Wings Museum.
CSOAF founding member John Daher of Stacy opened the ceremonies at noon Sunday, asking the community to “spend a little bit of time letting them know we care” as he explained that one percent of the U.S. population currently serves on the military and overall, only 7 percent of the population has ever served.
Daher called for the community and local governments to get involved in supporting our troops.
Pastor Ed Wheatley of St. John’s Lutheran in Stacy gave an invocation on behalf of seven members of his flock who are currently serving. National recording artist Sabastian Roberts sang the National Anthem and donated the proceeds from sales of his CD to CSOAF.
34th Infantry Red Bull Sgt. Brandon Sundberg, out of Pine City, stepped up to the microphone and saluted the citizens who had donated to CSOAF. He recently returned from a deployment and as the recipient of one of the 135 packages CSOAF shipped to Afghanistan was deeply grateful for the support.
“A little something from home means a lot,” said Sundberg, describing the feeling as being “like Christmas.” Favorite items received included remote control race cars, lights, Christmas trees and Chef Boyardee products, which, Sundberg chuckled, are “a rare commodity” in Afghanistan.
Sundberg was followed by Annette Brechon Kuyper, director of Military Outreach for the MN Dept. of Military Affairs. Kuyper is responsible for starting the first Beyond the Yellow Ribbon (BTYR) program, btyr.org.
She described the painful beginnings of BTYR evolving out of a fractured local community in Farmington, Minn., and citizens who in 2007 had enough bickering amongst themselves, and wanted to do something positive for others in the community. They decided to do something for military personnel and their families.
“This was the beginning of the MN BTYR program. It has become a national model of support,” Kuyper said
She noted that in communities with a BTYR program, use of veterans assistance has decreased as military personnel, veterans and their families are finding BTYR a great alternative source of support.
“We are reaching out to every veteran, every military family and every service member to ensure you are not alone,” she explained.
Sundberg thanked the community for attending the day’s events. “From the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone for coming out here and for doing what you’re doing,” he said.
Check out more photos of Red Bull Day in the June 27 issue of the Post Review.