Brute’s Bleat by Harold Brutlag

Maple Lake’s Memorial Day program will be Monday, May 28th. As in past years, there will be a parade from American Legion Post 131 beginning at 10:00 a.m. to the Community Park where the program begins at 10:30 a.m. Post Commander Gary Jude will be at the podium as he has been for over 20 years. He elected not to seek re-election as commander and will be replaced by Randy Mavencamp who was elected Commander at the Post’s May 8th meeting.

The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition, but the specific origin of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was first known, are unclear. In early rural America, this duty was usually performed in late summer and was an occasion for family reunions and picnics. After the Civil War, America’s need for a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead became prominent as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies centering on the decoration of soldiers’ graves were held in towns and cities throughout the nation.

After World War I, the day expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.

No less than 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, and states observed the holiday on different dates. In 1971, Memorial Day became a national holiday by an act of Congress; it is now celebrated on the last Monday in May.

The wearing of poppies in honor of America’s war dead is traditionally done on Memorial Day (not Veterans Day). The origin of the red poppy as a modern-day symbol of this day was actually the idea of an American woman, Miss Moina Michael. In war-torn battlefields, the red field poppy (papaver rhoeas) was one of the first plants to grow. Its seeds scattered in the wind and sat dormant in the ground, only germinating when the ground is disturbed—as it was by the very brutal fighting during World War 1.

The practice of wearing of poppies was further inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written in 1915 by Canadian soldier John McCrae. He saw the poppies in burials around his artillery position in Belgium. Today, poppies are both the symbol of loss of life as well as a symbol of recovery and new life, especially in support of those servicemen who were damaged physically or emotionally.

Those paragraphs are only a sample of the history behind Memorial Day and we urge local citizens to be present at this year’s observance in Maple Lake, both to honor the servicemen and women who died defending our freedoms; and to honor Gary Jude as he steps down as Commander of American Legion Post 131.

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Maple Lake’s fishing pier has been installed in Maple Lake west of the public access on Hwy. 55. It’s the floating variety and, while it’s a used pier, it looks like new after the city’s maintenance department refurbished it with brown treated lumber. With a T-end it’s large enough to handle a lot of anglers, young and old.

Fishing off the T-end of the pier Sunday evening their first time were John Northenscold Jr. and his wife Linda. They were fishing sunfish and had a nice mess of sunnies when I stopped by about 8:30 p.m. According to John they started biting about 8:00 p.m. They were fishing about three feet down and both of them were catching fish. John felt the pier is a real nice addition to the amenitites at the beach and commended those who pursued the idea which has been in the making for a number of years. That would include the City Councils, Maple Lake Lions Club, and the Lake Association.

The Northenscold’s are avid Morel mushroom hunters too and quizzed me about this spring’s hunt. They hadn’t been out yet and I have kept me eyes peeled while walking Vanna in Ney Park, but haven’t come up with any yet. Some rain and warm humid nights could make a difference.

I finally got my boat out Sunday evening as the wind was going down with the intentions of photographing the fishing pier from the water as well as making sure the boat’s outboard and electronics were functioning. I’d call it a shakedown cruise and the only thing that gave me any trouble was the livewell pump. It seems to have a mind of it’s own and will start pumping well only to lose the volume of water from full blast to a mere trickle. Frustrating, but I can live with it! I had my fly rod along to test the waters for crappies or sunfish. The larger sunfish seemed to like the Timber Wolf I was throwing at them and bit for about a half hour. They weren’t spawning yet, but another week of warm weather will help!

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