A veteran’s farewell: Benesh, who helped plan military memorial services in town for 16 years, steps aside

   Brian Benesh, right, speaks Wednesday during Veterans Day Services at Stickney Auditorium in Dickinson State University’s May Hall.

Brian Benesh, right, speaks Wednesday during Veterans Day Services at Stickney Auditorium in Dickinson State University’s May Hall.

When Brian Benesh began planning Veterans Day Services in Dickinson 16 years ago, they were held at the St. Anthony Club.

Over the years, attendance has grown so much that the services need to be held at Stickney Auditorium in Dickinson State University’s May Hall, one of the city’s largest venues.

Benesh said Wednesday during the service’s recognition ceremony that he’s stepping down as the planner of Veterans Day and Memorial Day events to focus his volunteerism on memorializing veterans’ gravesites in cemeteries with American flags.

“The time has come for me to just spend my time and efforts on my cemeteries and honoring those people,” Benesh said. “These programs will run themselves. That won’t be a problem. But it’s time to let go.”

First Sgt. Scott Obrigewitch, a Dickinson teacher and master of ceremonies for Wednesday’s service, said he didn’t have to worry about the program with Benesh in charge.

“When he calls me up, it’s pretty much planned,” Obrigewitch said. “He has everything lined up.”

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9/11 Memorial both breathtaking, infuriating

Members of the Puerto Rican National Guard look over the 9/11 Memorial.

One of the most interesting — and mildly infuriating — moments of my wife and I’s recent trip to New York was our visit to the 9/11 Memorial.

First, if you haven’t been to New York, understand that there are a lot of tourists there. And it’s not just Americans. People from all over the world visit the city every day, particularly in the summer. New York, especially Times Square, is very much the proverbial melting pot it’s made out to be, and that extends to the tourists. You can be anywhere in the city and you wouldn’t be able to tell if the person next to you was from North Dakota or Germany, Long Island or Italy.

The only place where we noticed a stark difference between American and foreign tourists was the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, which we visited along with thousands of others the Sunday before Labor Day.

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Charity aims at using robotics to help wounded, disabled vets

Jeff Woods has always been interested in robots.

“Since I was a child, I dreamed of a robot that could solve all kinds of problems and assist mankind in a helpful way,” Woods said during his Memorial Day service address Monday at Dickinson State University’s Stickney Auditorium.

The U.S. Air Force veteran has turned his hobby into a not-for-profit charity, Robots 4 Wounded Soldiers, aimed specifically at helping wounded and disabled American veterans take advantage of the technological advances in robotics and robotic prostheses. Woods gave a nearly 20-minute speech that was more about inspirational Americans and the country’s history than his charity. His words prompted a standing ovation.

“I can see he has a heart for veterans,” said George Nodland, a former state senator from Dickinson who served as master of ceremonies at the service and introduced Woods.

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When a veteran speaks, listen

On Thursday night, we had to make a quick trip to Bismarck. Because we were heading that way, I decided that it was time to pay a visit to the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan.

That’s where my Grandpa Monke was buried in December, and because circumstances kept me from attending the burial service, I had yet to see the place where he was laid to rest.

While this was my first trip to the Veterans Cemetery, it certainly won’t be my last. Not only is my Grandpa there, my Grandma and parents plan to buried there as well.

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Families recognized by Medal of Honor recipient at Patriot Guard memorial

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha of Minot, left, gives his speech Saturday at the Patriot Guard Memorial and Honor Ride at the Dickinson Recreation Center. To his left are family members of soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha ended his speech Saturday afternoon at the seventh annual Patriot Guard Fallen Heroes Memorial and Honor Ride with words that spoke to the heart of everyone in attendance at the Dickinson Recreation Center.

“There’s an old saying that those who stay home serve also,” said Romesha, a U.S. Army veteran and the nation’s most recent Medal of Honor recipient, before receiving a standing ovation.

Romesha, a California native who now calls Minot home, was the guest of honor at the memorial that paid tribute to the families of four North Dakota soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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