Ken Swanson served as a combat engineer in the South Pacific  during World War II as part of the U.S. Army’s 43rd Division. He faced the enemy from August 1942 through September 1945. And now his face graces the Wall of Honor at Ecumen North Branch senior living facility to honor him and many more who served.

Swanson, a resident at Ecumen, was in attendance at the dedication ceremony on June 26. 

“It’s very nice,” he said of the wall filled with photos of combat veterans who are current residents of the facility.  

During the dedication ceremony, Ecumen Executive Director Jeffrey Richardson thanked the leadership team for “their vision to want to be able to create something special for our veteran residents that are living with us today.”

Along with thanking veterans and their families “who endured while we served,” Richardson recognized Senator Mark Koran, who was in attendance at the dedication; the American Legion Post 85 and the VFW Post 6424, who presented the flags of the different branches of the military; and Chisago County’s veteran services officers and Chisago Lakes Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, organizations which assist veterans in obtaining services and benefits.

Richardson also thanked Ecumen North Branch activities staff Ronda Taber and Molly DeFrance, who took the photos for the wall and made sure the wall is up-to-date. 

North Branch mayor Jim Swenson was invited to speak at the event, which he noted was a real honor. 

“I hope I get a chance to speak to all of you,” he said to those in attendance. “It’s ironic that we just got done with the 75th anniversary of the landing at Normandy, which, as you know, ended up very well for all of us for this whole world.

“There is no greater service than that of a veteran,” Swenson continued. “Throughout history our servicemen and women have fought for our country’s independence, protected us for our freedoms, risen up against our enemies, both foreign and domestic, and continue to do so in an ever-changing world.”

Noting veterans deserve the highest level of honor and gratitude bestowed upon them, Swenson added, “May the wall be a remembrance to all who view it, all who are fortunate to have these Ecumen veterans among us as living reminders of how precious our freedoms are. And, for all veterans who are no longer with us, may they be honored in our hearts.”

 Following Swenson’s address, Ecumen North Branch Chaplain Karen Cherwien offered a prayer. The American Legion and VFW presented the flags, and Jenni Thyng led the group in singing “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” 

After the dedication ceremony, attendees were invited to a barbecue where Thyng provided entertainment.

The public can visit the wall in the front lobby at 5379 383rd St., North Branch, during regular business hours Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekends. Call 651-237-3000 with questions. 

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