By WENDY LEGERET
For The Daily News
IRON MOUNTAIN - Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Four local veterans, who served the country during World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and in Iraq, are part of the reason Americans have the freedoms they have today.
Memorial Day takes a special meaning for these veterans.
Julius Haelterman, or, as everyone calls him Jewels, served in World War II from 1944 to 1946. Born in Norway, he resides at Evergreen Assisted Living in Norway.
"Well, a lot of my buddies were killed in World War II," Haelterman said. "You know, because of my age, it means a lot to think of them."
"But I guess too many of us forget about the guys that went over there and lost their lives," Haelterman said. "I think of it a lot. I belong to the Legion and the VFW and try to contribute certain things. I'm going to the memorial service Monday (today) in Hermansville."
Fred Jensen, born and raised in Racine, Wis., served in the Air Force in the Korean War, and is a patient at the short-term facility at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain.
"When I was a grade schooler, Memorial Day was a special day for us. It goes back how to we studied history. It still should be taught the same as far as I'm concerned," Jensen said. "It was a day to remember the veterans. I wish we could go back to the olden times where the schools would teach the kids. There are holidays that have meaning for our country, because we still got the greatest country in the world."
Ronald Olson, born in Kingsford, served in the Marine Corps from 1966 to 1969, and he spent over a year in Vietnam in the medical battalion.
"I think Memorial Day means to me more than the freedom we have, as Americans, to live in probably the greatest country there is," Olson said. "I got to thank all those have given a small amount. Others have given their lives so that we would have the freedom we have today."
Adam Hayes, born in Iron Mountain, is an employee at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Hospital. He served from 2001 to 2004, starting in South Korea, and ending in Iraq.
His position at the VA is the recreation therapy assistant.
"Memorial Day is a quiet holiday for me," Hayes said. "I generally take time to remember friends that have fallen and to think about family members."
"Military has been very big in my family," he said. "Ever since we have arrived in this country, we have had at least one member of every generation in the military. With most generations, it's been the majority of us."
"We served in World War II, Vietnam, I think there was someone in the Korean War, one in Desert Storm, two in Iraq (my cousin and myself)," Hayes said.
"We think it's very important to us to do our service to this country and think about all the sacrifices that we've made and really appreciate what we have here; and at the same time, be respectful of people that were not as lucky as those of us who came back," he said.