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Hancock Memorial Day service honors sacrifice (with video)

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Sgt. Adam Blair reads the roll of the dead during the Memorial Day service at Lakeside Cemetery in rural Hancock. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times2 / 4
Major Chad Ver Steeg of the U.S. Air Force Reserves speaks during the Memorial Day service at Lakeside Cemetery in rural Hancock. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times3 / 4
A few hundred people sit in Lakeside Cemetery in rural Hancock for the Memorial Day service. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times4 / 4

The list of soldiers who died while serving their country includes Hancock native Kurt Kruize. Kruize was a Staff Sergeant with the Army Reserves who died in Iraq on April 4, 2010. Kruize drove a tanker and was preparing for a trip when he died.

Chad Ver Steeg, a Major in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, said during the Memorial Day service at Lakeside Cemetery in rural Hanock that Kruize is an example of a soldier who willingly gave all in service to his country.

"I believe that when Kurt took his Army Oath of Enlistment to defend our constitution and our country he knew he could lose his life," Ver Steeg said. "It is difficult in knowing that he lost his life in defense of our country, but comforting in knowing that he gave his life also so that you and I could remain free today."

Such sacrifice "is worth remembering every day and honoring when ever we can," the Rev. Julius Miller said during his message at the cemetery on Memorial Day.

But, Miller and Ver Steeg said, we must also honor the memory of those who died in service to our country by also honoring the family who survived them.

The public not only honors the sacrifice of soldiers by erecting monuments, statues and placing wreaths on graves but "also by the respect and support we give to the loved ones that remain," Miller said.

Kruize's parents, Lyle and Beverly, felt that respect and support after their son died, Ver Steeg said.

A 14-year-old boy rode his bicycle from Sartell to St. Cloud on the day of Kurt's funeral to pay his respects, Ver Steeg said. Because of the teen's action at the funeral, the Patriot Guard made that teen an honorary member of the guard. He goes with the Patriot Guard, a group of motorcyclists who form an honor line with American flags to honor deceased veterans at funerals and memorial events. Before an annual memorial event at Camp Ripley, the teen will tell the Kruizes if they are unable to attend the memorial, he will place the wreath on their son's grave, Ver Steeg said.

"We also thankful to all those family members who are left behind like Lyle, Beverly, Kurt's wife and (their children) who have sacrificed so much on our behalf," Ver Steeg said.

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