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Answer Man: No charge for veterans buried at Preston cemetery

November 13, 2018

Editor’s note: This classic Answer Man comes from two past columns — May, 26, 2017, and Dec. 7, 2016.

Dear Answer Man, do veterans have to pay to be buried at the state cemetery in Preston? What about family members?

Veterans pay nothing to be buried at the State Veterans Cemetery or to their ashes placed in the columbarium. A spouse or eligible dependent pays $745. Veterans can pre-register to assure their eligibility and eliminate delays in getting the proper documents to the cemetery office.

The cemetery, only the second one in Minnesota, was dedicated a year ago and has recorded 205 burials to date, with more than 700 veterans pre-registered. “The pre-registration numbers are fantastic, as we see families utilizing this option in their planning,” according to Robert Gross, the cemetery administrator. “We are seeing an increase in both burials and pre-registrations across state lines, as veterans from other states learn of the location and services offered as well.”

Pre-registration can be done at county veterans service offices as well as through the Preston office. For details, call 507-765-7320.

Dear Answer Man, how did most people in Minnesota find out about the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941? The attack was at about 8 a.m. in Hawaii, so that’s about noon in Rochester. By what time that Sunday did most people learn about the attacks?

What an excellent question, and it’s this type of detail that adds context and meaning to historical events.

The first Associated Press bulletin went out on the wire at 1:22 p.m. central time, and by 1:30 p.m. the first radio bulletins were being heard nationwide. By mid-afternoon, most people in Rochester, which in 1941 was about the same size as Austin is now, would have heard the news.

How did most people in the Rochester area hear it? KROC had been on the air since 1935, and the NBC radio bulletins were among the first words about the attack. Some may have heard the news on Minneapolis giant WCCO, and recordings of those broadcasts, with CBS announcer John Daly announcing the first bulletin, are available on YouTube — I’ll add a link online.

Help me out if you know more about local radio history at that time, and if you have memories of how you learned about the attacks that will “live in infamy.”

For the record, Rochester’s first TV station went on the air 12 years after the attack. KROC-TV (now KTTC) was the first in Southern Minnesota and was the third in the state, after KSTP and KTCN.

Dear Answer Man, I would like to send Christmas cards to veterans in hospitals. How can I get addresses and can I get names or do I have to just send them en masse to hospitals? — Michael Tri

Hats off to you, Michael. Due to HIPPA and other acrimonious acronyms, I foresee problems with this, and I’ll await ideas from local veterans organizations on how to get cards directly to hospitalized veterans. For now, if you send “en masse” Christmas cards for veterans to me, I’ll make sure they get ASAP to the VA hospital in Minneapolis, or wherever they can brighten the holidays for veterans.

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