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Woodbury Memorial Day events to honor fallen soldiers

It's been two years since Dan Drevnick of Woodbury was killed in Iraq while serving with the 34th Military Police Red Bulls. He was a vibrant 22-year-old with a passion for high performance vehicles and motorcycles.

People said he knew how to break the ice at every social setting and bridge the gap between different generations.

To honor him and other soldiers, his father Ken Drevnick will read a poem at this year's Memorial Day ceremony scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Monday, May 30, at the Veterans Memorial site near Woodbury City Hall.

"I will introduce Dan to several more people who may never get to meet him in person, but they know of him," Drevnick said. "And it's a way for me to continue to have him out there."

The Memorial Day service will honor local veterans who were killed while serving in World War II, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. A total of nine names will be read and recognized, VFW commander Bob Fritsche said.

Nearly 200 people are expected to attend the service.

"Woodbury is one of the cities that I've noticed that is really for their veterans ... otherwise they would've had a hard time getting that memorial built," Fritsche said.

Lt. Col. Barbara O'Reilly of Woodbury, who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and is now a National Guard member, will also speak at the service.

The Memorial Day ceremony is one of the ways the Drevnick family and others deal with the loss of loved ones. Participating in various organizations that help returning veterans today now has a deeper meaning, Drevnick said.

"We were always very patriotic in our family, but since Dan was killed, we pay a lot more attention to the veterans, the people who are still serving," he said, adding, "It's difficult of course, but we find ourselves coping by assisting more soldiers and more veterans."

Memorial Day concert

With the recent events concerning Osama bin Laden's death, Matthew Griswold said it's easy to get caught up in thinking those involved in the mission are something other than humans.

Griswold, a Woodbury native and singer, is an Iraq War veteran who will perform at the third annual Veterans Aid concert to be held from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Fine Line Music Café in Minneapolis. This year's concert is titled "Bring Them All the Way Home."

"Some of these men and women returning home aren't always in the same condition that they were in when they left," Griswold said.

The concert will focus on the humanitarian side of things, as opposed to the politics.

Griswold said though the killing of bin Laden brought Sept. 11 back to the forefront, those involved in similar, though less visible missions that captured high value terrorists in the past, didn't receive the same reaction from Americans.

"It wasn't something you celebrate, it was something that had to be done. At the end of the day it has to be done in an unfortunate way," Griswold said. "It opened my eyes to how some people saw the event in a very unreal way."

The concert is a way to bring awareness to things soldiers face, on a day that people reflect on those paying the ultimate sacrifice, he added.

Tickets are $10 for the concert, which is also a fundraiser for the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans. A raffle will also raise money for the Minnesota Warriors Board Hockey Team, which is open to any wounded veteran in the state.

Last year the concert raised $1,300 from ticket sales. This year Griswold said he hopes to hit the $2,000 mark.

There will be four total acts at the concert, all performing acoustics, including Sasha Mercedes, Carl Torgerson, Steve Parry and Griswold.

This year is the first to be titled "Bring Them All the Way Home" and is intended for everyone involved in military life -- wives, children, family and friends.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.