Lucy Craft Laney Community School will host an Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song celebration with Larry Long honoring three community elders on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM. Address: 3333 Penn Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55412. This year’s theme is ‘Honoring Men of Color’ and we are happy to shine a light on their life achievements.

Elder Wisdom, Children’s Song™ is brought to you by Community Celebration of Place (501-C-3) in partnership the West Metro Education Program (WMEP). Toki Wright, Julia Sewell, Jeremiah Bey and Larry Long have been working with young men from the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade to collectively write songs that honor the life stories of the following community elders:

• Edgar Young, Jr.: Edgar Young, Jr. was born January 9, 1956 in Mississippi. In 1970 his family moved to Minnesota to live with family. After completing high school and joining the work force, Mr. Young earned a business degree and Master of Social Work. Mr. Young has worked as a child protection counselor and social worker for 8 years with the Minneapolis public schools. Mr. Young is also a master martial artist and founder/owner of Young’s Taekwondo School. He is dedicated to his family and school community, and brings a level of energy, excitement and enthusiasm to everything that he does.
• David Branch: Mr. David Branch was born February 6th, 1966 in Chicago, Illinois. The youngest child of a prominent Minneapolis couple, Reverend and Mrs. Branch, husband to Rebecca and father of four took over the leadership of Lucy Laney School during its fresh start eight years ago. Mr. Branch is a former Social Worker, Principal and lifelong North Minneapolis resident. Mr. Branch has left a legacy of commitment to the Laney community that we are forever grateful for.
• Reverend Richard Coleman: Reverend Coleman was born in Mississippi on January 5th, 1953. At a young age Richard’s family moved to Chicago. Reverend Coleman enrolled in college, met his wife and has been married 43 years. The couple has three daughters and ten grandkids. In 1989, the family was transferred to the Twin Cities to pastor. Reverend Coleman is a pillar in the community. He is an example of faithfulness and following the call of God on his life. He gave up the riches and fame of professional baseball to serve the community.

Lucy Craft Laney’s Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song celebration on May 27th, 2015 will feature the release of the student illustrated HONORING MEN OF COLOR by YOUNG MEN OF COLOR, along with the companion CD and documentary DVD by ADDAM, produced through Young Publishers program of Community Celebration of Place.
Lucy Laney-ALL

Larry Long will be joining Anne Feeney, Bucky Halker, Lil’ Rev, JP Wright, Jan Hammarlund, Paul Metsa, Emmett Doyle, and the Twin Cities Labor Chrous to celebrate Joe Hill! WHERE: EAST SIDE FREEDOM LIBRARY, 1105 GREENBRIER STREET, ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA WHEN: SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2015, 2:30 – 4:30 PM

The East Side Freedom Library is honored to be hosting the Saint Paul stop of the Joe Hill 100 Roadshow, a tour commemorating the memory of the Swedish immigrant IWW singer/organizer, executed in Utah 100 years ago. Organized by the musicians themselves, this tour is sweeping across the Midwest and beyond. Among the performers will be:

Anne Feeney, the Pittsburgh-based singer/activist, has been performing on stages and picket lines since 1991. At last count, Anne has performed in 41 states and more than a dozen counties and has recorded nine cd’s, including such favorites as “Have You Been to Jail for Justice?” and “Dump the Bosses Off Your Back.” She has also organized a rape crisis center in Pittsburgh.

Bucky Halker earned his Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota in the early 1980s but does not refer to himself as “Dr.” Halker. Bucky is well-known for his electric and electrifying versions of labor favorites and for his work preserving historic folk and labor music. With the Illinois Humanities Council, he has produced a five volume cd series, “Folksongs of Illinois,” and he has recorded 13 cd’s of his own, including “Welcome to Labor Land” and “Don’t Want Your Millions.”

John Paul Wright hails from Lexington, Kentucky, where he has been a railroad engineer and union activist as well as a labor songster. JP has been a leading organizer of Railroad Workers United, an organization which continues Eugene V. Debs’ dream of one big railroad workers’ union and which has been a particularly strong voice for railroad workers’ concerns with public safety. JP’s cd’s include “Born Union” and “Music for Modern Railroaders.”

Lil’ Rev grew up in Milwaukee, where he has worked as a bus driver and a grade school teacher, as well as a labor troubadour. He has authored eight instructional books on ukele playing, and he has recorded 15 cd’s, including 2 volumes of “Fountain of Uke.”

Jan Hammarlund has come all the way from Sweden to join the tour. He recorded his first album in 1972, a collection of protest songs against the Vietnam War. Since then, he has recorded ten cd’s, ranging from interpretations of Italian and Chilean music for Swedish audiences to musical commentaries on the work of Bertolt Brecht and Malvina Reynolds. Jan has also been a strong voice for GLBT rights in Sweden.

These touring musicians will be joined in Saint Paul by some local talent:

Paul Metsa hails from the Iron Range and has become well-known locally not only as live performer and recording artist (six cd’s), but also as an author and radio show host. In 2011 the University of Minnesota published his memoir, BLUE GUITAR HIGHWAY, and many of us enjoy his “Wall of Power” radio show on 950AM KTNF, broadcast live on Saturdays at 6PM and re-broadcast on Sundays at noon. Twin Cities labor activists have a special appreciation for his song, “Slow Justice,” which he first performed on the picket lines during the Hormel strike in Austin in 1986.

Emmett Doyle grew up in Collegeville and is now a popular presence in the Twin Cities folk and protest music scene. He is also appreciated for his use of the internet as a vehicle to encourage the non-commercial distribution of his passionate music.

The Twin Cities Labor Chorus will also join the celebration. They were organized in January 2009 and have since performed at labor gatherings, meetings, and protests across the state. They have 30 dedicated members who rehearse and perform under the direction of Josh Whitney Wise, who has also been a leader in the Twin Cities Fair Trade Coalition.

Larry Long is an American singer-songwriter who has made his life work the celebration of everyday heroes. Author, historian, actor, and broadcaster Studs Terkel called Larry “a true American Troubadour.” Larry has written and performed hundreds of ballads celebrating community and history makers. Larry produced “Live From Austin: Boycott Hormel”, which raised thousands of dollars to help P-9 displaced workers and their families. As an active member of Local 1000, American Federation of Musicians, Larry continues to perform and give support to organized labor whenever he is called.


SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2015, 2:30 – 4:30 PM


The East Side Freedom Library is a newly organized 501c3 nonprofit, located in the historic Carnegie Library building which served for 97 years as the Arlington Hills Public Library. The immediate neighborhood around the Library was long a center of Swedish immigrant life, and in recent years it has been made a home by Hmong, Mexican, Karen, Salvadoran, Somali, and African American newcomers. The ESFL is dedicated to providing resources and programs which will enable community residents to tell their own stories in multiple formats (books, poetry, theater, music, visual art, and more) and to learn from each other. For more information, please see

Larry Long will be honoring the writings of Louise Erdrich in story and song at the historic Marine Village Hall in downtown Marine on the St. Croix in Minnesota. Joining Larry will be Joe Savage (master musician & Anishinaabe quillworker) and Jacqueline Long (reading selective works from Louise Erdrich). Louise Erdrich is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant writers of the second wave of the Native American Renaissance.

Sponsored by ArtReach St. Croix through Big Read, which is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Youth of Sumner Library Presents: “Shake It Off! Stomp It Down!” in honor of Jerry Blue. Featuring: Larry Long (Troubadour), Abdulkadir Said (Somali Composer), Nothando Zulu (Master Storyteller), Joe Savage (Musician & Ojibwe Artist), and Joe Davis (Spoken Word).  Thursday, March 26, 5 PM – 6 PM
Sumner Library: 611 Van White Memorial Blvd, Minneapolis, MN
For Families of all ages. FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLICSumner Collage

The Twin Cities observance of the 1965 Selma March will be held March 8th, 2-4 p.m., beginning at the State Capitol and ending at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Saint Paul. Music by Larry Long, Tonia Hughes, andCameron Wright.


Led by a coalition of faith communities, we will come together from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, political preferences and across socio-economic differences. We will come together across all that could divide us to be unified in this moment in recognition of the interfaith march of 1965 from Selma to Montgomery, with hopes of inspiring continued partnerships. We join this march with others across the country, including those in Selma. We are stronger together in bringing justice to this broken and hurting world.

The Twin Cities observance of the 1965 Selma March will be held March 8th, 2-4 p.m., beginning at the State Capitol and ending at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Saint Paul.

We invite you to spread the word, to register, to donate, and to consider becoming a financial partner.

You can join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  On the day of the march, we will be using the hashtag #Selma2MN to connect on social media.


March 8, 2015

2:00pm    Gather at the Capitol
2:20pm    March begins
3:00pm    Program at Central Presbyterian

Register and join the Facebook event.

Blurbs and printable bulletin inserts are available for your use here.


Event details

2:00pm    At the State Capitol
Historical Context by Yusef Mgeni
Prayer by Rev. Alfonso Reff

2:20pm    March begins

2:45pm     Arriving at Central Presbyterian
Music by Larry Long, Tonia Hughes and Cameron Wright

3:00pm    At Central Presbyterian
Welcome by Pastor David Colby
Speaker:  Dr. Barbara Holmes
Speaker:  Rabbi Adam Spilker
Spoken Word:  Joe Davis

4:00pm    Reception in the Friendship Room / Dining Hall


Parking Possibilities

Near Central Presbyterian

There are several additional paid parking lots near the church, along with on-street parking.

Near State Capitol

Larry Long brings his popular American Roots Revue series back to the Dakota Jazz Club on March 7th. A legendary Minneapolis rocker (now by way of New Orleans) and a well known New York actor, writer and international blues recording artist will join the latest incarnation of the American Roots Revue for two shows at the Dakota. Soul Asylum leader Dave Pirner and Guy Davis (son of the late Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis) will team-up with the Pavarotti of Gospel Robert Robinson and Troubadour and Community Builder Larry Long, with special guest Waubanewquay Day who will open with an Anishinabe Ojibwe honor song.

The revamped lineup is equaled only by the strong supporting musicians: Drummer Michael Bland (Prince, Soul Asylum, Paul Westerberg); Guitarist Cory Wong (Bryan White, Alexander O’Neal, Foreign Motion); Pedal Steel player Joe Savage (Hank Thompson, Dan Wilson, Wanda Jackson, David Frizzell, John Gorka); Bass Player Jimmy Anton (Jonny Lang, Jesse Johnson, Doc Severinsen).

American Roots Revue works from the core of America’s richest musical traditions of First Nation, gospel, blues, folk, rock and R&B. Now in its seventh iteration, the Revue has reinvented itself with its most musically diverse line up ever. The special night will feature solo performances by each new member doing their own songs, as well as exciting combinations of singers never seen or heard before onstage.

Tickets are $40.00 for the 7:00 p.m. show and $35.00 for the 9:30 p.m. performance and can be ordered online or at the door at the Dakota 1010 Nicollet Avenue • Minneapolis, MN 55403 • 612-332-1010 .



Sonnesyn Elementary School will host an Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song celebration honoring three community elders in their gym on Thursday, February 5, 2015, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM.   Featuring  4th grade students with Larry Long, plus ‘the first lady of song’ Debbie Duncan and ‘pianist’ Sam Reeves.  Address: 3421 Boone Avenue North, New Hope, MN 55427.  This year’s theme is ‘Honoring Men of Color’ and we are happy to shine a light on their life achievements.

 Elder Wisdom, Children’s Song™ is brought to you by Community Celebration of Place (501-C-3) in partnership with Robbinsdale Area Schools and the West Metro Education Program (WMEP).

Larry Long, Smithsonian Folkways Recording Artist and creator of Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song, has been working with 4th grade classes of Sarah Rodriguez, Jacqueline Ballot and Deb Petersen to collectively write songs that honor the life stories of the following community elders:

  • Michael Favor: Born in Athens, Georgia during the Civil Rights Movement. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011. Graduated with a degree in Sociology, Social Work, and Coaching.  Received his Masters Degree from Hamline University.  Doctoral Degree is progress.  Assistant Superintendent of the Robbinsdale School District.
  • Beni Persaud: Born in Guyana, South America. Worked as a child on the sugar plantations with his mother following his father’s death when he was seven years of age. After serving in the British Army he moved to Minnesota. Attended Dunwoody Institute. Married and has three daughters and one son. Retired from the railroad.
  • Samuel Wagner Cooke: Born in the Republic of Liberia, West Africa. Graduated with a Secondary Education Degree. Served as Research Director and Secretary General for the National Teachers Association. Elected to the West African Examinations Council, which develops policies for the five English speaking member-countries in West Africa; Liberia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Nigeria. Moved to Minnesota in 1998, where he received a Masters degree. Presently works for the Robbinsdale School District.


Sonnesyn’s Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song celebration on February 5, 2015 will feature 4th grade students with Larry Long, plus ‘the first lady of song’ Debbie Duncan and ‘stellar pianist’ Sam Reeves.


Community Empowerment is the topic to end the year. It the holiday show on Urban Perspectives 12/28/14. I talk with the Chief Financial Officer of American Public Media:Morris Goodwin Jr, Dr. Margret Lovejoy Founder of the Family Place Shelter, Larry Long Director/Founder of Community Celebration of Place and we spotlight Shay Glorius Martin: “The Lab” Youth Mentor.

Watch live or DVR Urban Perspectives Sunday 5;30am on WCCO-TV. Pete Rhodes & Larry Long

Larry will be taking a three-month break from American Roots Revue and solo performances to focus on his work in education through Community Celebration of Place.

Over the past twenty-five years, Larry in partnership with Community Celebration of Place has honored nearly 1,000 community elders from across the United States and the world in spoken word, song, and art through this program. Alan Lomax, one of the great American field collectors of folk music of the 20th century, once called Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song, the “missing link.” That link continues to get stronger with every year. 

Learn More

“Who will carry on this story when I’m gone?” – Slava Bryn, Elder

In school year 2013-2014, Larry Long initiated the creation and publishing of twelve story-song books through Community Celebration of Place in partnership with the West Metro Education Program and Minneapolis Public Schools. These books, written and illustrated by youth, honor the cultural diversity of our region through the inspirational life stories of community elders. The books are integrated into the yearly curriculum of area schools and made available FREE online at

Learn More

Samuel Wagner Cooke-CLASS-LOWRES


Larry is presently working with students from Sonnesyn Elementary School in New Hope, Minnesota to honor the life stories of Beni Persaud, Samuel Wagner Cooke, and Michael Favor in narrative and song through a program called, Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song.   The lyrics to their songs will be illustrated by students and published, as part of the Men of Color Series through Community Celebration of Place.  (

About the honored elders:

Samuel Wagner Cooke:  Born in the Republic of Liberia, West Africa.  Graduated with a Secondary Education Degree.  Principal of Public High School.   Fled during the Civil War and settled in Minnesota, where he received a Master Degree and works in the Robbinsdale School District.


Michael Favor:  Born in Athens, Georgia during the Civil Rights Movement.  Family moved to Minneapolis when he was a child.  Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.   Graduated with a degree in Sociology, Social Work, and Coaching. Principal at Minneapolis North and Cooper High Schools.  Presently, Assistant Superintendent of the Robbinsdale School District.


Beni Persaud:  Born in Guyana, South America.  Worked as a child on the sugar plantations with his mother following his father’s death when he was seven. After joining the British Army he moved to Minnesota.   Married and raised their four children in north Minneapolis.

Tickets are still available for the September show at the Dakota. Don’t miss this chance to see American Roots Revue back together again for an end-of-summer celebration. And as if you didn’t have enough reasons, Robert Robinson is back!

Featuring Larry Long, JD Steele, Robert Robinson, Tonia Hughes, Waubanewquay Day & Fiddlin’ Pete Watercott with Cory Wong (guitar), Yohannes Tona (bass), Brian Ziemniak (Keyboards), Marc Anderson (Percussion), Petar Janjic (drums)

Fresh off of a 2014 five-city ‘Legacy’ summer tour, American Roots Revue celebrates in story and song the many nations of people who call this country home. The American Roots Revue works from the core of America’s richest musical traditions of gospel, folk, blues, R&B and First Nation traditions of the Anishinabe Ojibwe people. Backed by some of the finest Twin Cities musician’s making music across the world today.

In a satisfying two-hour performance that’s good for body and soul, this roots ensemble is led by Smithsonian/Folkways Recording artist, Larry Long, an American singer-songwriter who has made his life work the celebration of everyday heroes whom author, historian, actor, and broadcaster Studs Terkel called “a true American Troubadour.” Joining Long is national recording artist and producer, J. D. Steele, who heralds from the dynamic vocal family of siblings, The Steeles, a group that has garnered every major music award and accolade the state has had to offer. J.D. and the family began touring the international hit show “Gospel at Colonus” with Morgan Freeman around the world before finally landing on Broadway in 1988 for a successful nine-month run.

Rising powerhouse singer Tonia Hughes has deep roots in the African-American church but has also become a sought-after back-up singer on other genres and is a star in her own right. She’s served as a lead vocalist with the Grammy- and Stellar Award-nominated Excelsior Chorale Ensemble and has sung with a host of gospel and secular artists, including rock bands and pop performers. Keeper and Singer of the Song ‘Waubanewquay’ Dorene Day, the inspired Native Life Ways Singer/Practitioner, plays many roles in her rich artistic life. She sang as “Spirit Woman” in the play “Song Catcher” written by Marcie Rendon, performed in the WPT series, Wisconsin Stories-Ojibwe Music and sang for the Disney mini-series “Dream Keeper.” She also sings with her eldest Son’s Drum Group, ”Midnite Express” and is on several recordings. Dorene also won the 2010 Female singing competition in Mille Lacs Lake for the Minnesota Round Dance.

The American Roots Revue is a must-see event.

cost:  $30  or   BOX OFFICE 612-332-5299

Robert Robinson Photograph - Recent

About Robert Robinson

“I’m sure there are a lot of people like me who wish they had the ability to embrace every hurting person in the world and assure them that their lives will get better.  I can share that embrace and assurance in my songs.” – Robert Robinson

Robert Robinson is reason to believe that the greatest music reaches every name and crosses every boundary, from audiences in the Pontiac Silverdome to troops in South Korea. Standing five foot five and sipping Diet Coke, Robert is “God’s canary.”  He possesses the ability to sing any song and yet remain true to his vision.

KFAI will present “For Pete’s Sake”, a celebration of the life and work of musician and activist Pete Seeger, as a holiday-brightening opener on Labor Day morning from 6 to 8 am. Seeger was a lifelong supporter of organized labor and union causes.
When Pete died early this year, his friend Larry Long promised to celebrate what would have been Pete’s 95th birthday with a cast of local musicians who had keenly felt Seeger’s influence. On May 3rd, that group gathered at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.

The event celebrated the many phases of Seeger’s life and activism with an abundance of music from across the cultural spectrum.

Start your holiday morning with a long list of local notables: Robert Robinson, Prudence Johnson, John Gorka, Estaire Godinez, Chastity Brown, Larry Long, Joyful Noize, Peter Ostroushko, Waubanewquay Day, Ann Reed, Dan Chouinard, Tonia Hughes, Cyril Paul, Kevin Fuhrman, Brian Barnes, Brittany Delaney, Mitch Walking Elk, Courtney Yasmineh, Aimee Bryant, Patty Kakac, Barb Tilsen, Pop Wagner, Tony Glover, Charlie Maguire, Marc Anderson, Joe Savage, Cameron Wright, Lorna Her Many Horses, and Timothy Frantzich.

Featured narrators: Dale Connelly (News Director, KFAI, Fresh Air Community Radio), Anthony Galloway (Student Learning Programs Specialist, West Metro Education Program), Randy Furst & Chris Serres (Minnesota Newspaper Guild), Rod Volker (Vietnam Veteran, Marine Corp, Bring a Vet Home), Alejandra Tobar (Actress), Kim Ellison (Minneapolis Public School Board), Louis Alemayehu (Poet), Jacqueline Long (Attorney, Community Activist), Sharon Sayles Belton (Former Mayor of Minneapolis), Alanna Galloway (Communication Workers of America AFL-CIO), Dr. Josie Johnson (Civil Rights & Social Justice Elder), Ann Bancroft (Polar Explorer, Founder of Ann Bancroft Foundation), Reverend Dr. Will Healy (Park Avenue Methodist Church), Rhiana Yazzie (Playwright, Artistic Director of New Native Theatre), Jacob Reitan (LGBT Activist, Founder of Soulforce Equality Ride), Scarlett Lopez Cruz & Hector Lopez Cruz (Actors and Youth Activists), William Bunton (Freedom School Scholar)

Live Stream:

IMG_2685When I suspend judgment and allow the best intentions of the people to be heard through the collective songwriting process, a power far greater than “I” takes hold.

A song has the potential to open up ones heart to love, so often concealed within the ‘busy’ world in which we live.

To honor is to listen.  This is what I try to do when I sit down with a guitar, laptop computer, magic markers, and large sheets of flip chart paper and ask a room full of people what’s on their mind.   As they speak, I let go of judgment, and write down everything they say.   After they speak, I read back everything I wrote down and ask, “Did I get it right?”   If they say, “Yes!” we move onto the next person. Within a short period of time we have the thoughts of everyone in the room written down on one large document, which we collectively distill into a song.

I’ve written over a thousand songs with people of many faiths, cultures, and complexions from around the world and close to home using this process.

Last week in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota I worked with those who live and work in a ‘faith-based’ homeless shelter called The Refuge.

Out of which, a song was born.  These are some of their thoughts, followed by their song entitled, We Are The Refuge.

“The Refuge serves 30,000 meals a year. We feed guys from jails, guys from the streets. We have Thursday through Saturday night suppers.”

“We deal with anything and everything. Those who are at the end of their rope and in need of help.”

“People come in and we give them bread. We give them a place to stay.”

“We have a Compassion House. We deal with women on the back end of domestics. Hurting and needing help.”

“Those (who struggle) mentally and (with) alcohol and meth. You name it and we deal with it. We help them look for a job, (give them) transitional housing. We help them get on their right foot.”

“They’ve pointed me in a positive direction. They’ve given me a vision to grow in fellowship, as Christians. To get my life moving forward once and for all through Jesus, so guys like me don’t stumble or fall.

“(We) can always come back. (We) have friends here.” 

“I’ve been through treatment twice. I grew up in a Christian home. Trying to reconnect and reunite (with) my faith.”

“The book of Job is my favorite. Job didn’t feel like he should be punished the way he was. He couldn’t understand why he was punished. He came out a stronger person of faith and wealthier because of it. God can show us power through hard times and good times.”

“He has a purpose. He has a plan. He is the reason for why we stand.”

“We have hope in the future.”

“Feed the hungry.”

We’re The Refuge 

Vision to grow in fellowship with Jesus

So guys like me don’t stumble or fall

We are here for a reason

Each of us we have been called

We’re ‘The Refuge’ from the storm

Through Christ Jesus we’re reborn

We are tested by God’s wisdom

We are tested by God’s love

Through each trial we grow stronger

Through the strength from God above

We’re ‘The Refuge’ from the storm

Through Christ Jesus we’re reborn

We believe in God’s power

We believe God has a plan

Each of us we have a purpose

God is the reason for why we stand

We’re ‘The Refuge’ from the storm

Through Christ Jesus we’re reborn

There are times when we are homeless

There are times we need a bed

There are times we are hungry

Upon God’s word I lay my head

We’re ‘The Refuge’ from the storm

Through Christ Jesus we’re reborn

We are children of God’s nation

We are the hope of days to come

In the power of God’s glory

We are the light of God’s love

We’re ‘The Refuge’ from the storm

Through Christ Jesus we’re reborn


Music by Larry Long

Words by Larry Long with Christian Thorson, Chad Dakota,

Aleisa Jopp, Lynette Price, Charlie Walker

Copyright Larry Long Publishing 2014 / BMI




IMG_2697Thursday, August 14th, I collectively wrote an anthem for Beyond The Yellow Ribbon in Crookston, Minnesota with eleven of their supporters at the Crookston City Hall.

They shared with me the story of how Beyond The Yellow Ribbon began and their commitment to help veterans and their families return ‘all the way back home from deployment’.

These are some of their shared thoughts:

“One of my sons was a gunner, who served in Iraq in the Marine Corp and my other son was in communication. Our youngest son struggles with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD). He’s 26 years old. Beyond the Yellow Ribbon helped him get a Patriot Assistant Dog, which has really helped him through. They also helped us get to Camp New Hope.”

“My reason (to be involved in Beyond the Yellow Ribbon) is to make sure the country doesn’t react to veterans in the same way some did in my era. It was not a comfortable time when I served.”

“When I receive news of another soldier dying in war, I think, ‘It wasn’t my son, but it could have been our son. It could be your kid.’”

“There was no direction for any of us to go when we came home from deployment in Kosovo. We simply didn’t have that direction, but we do now.”

“There were things I did in Bosnia that I still think about a lot. When I came back I ended up getting a job full time and wandered through VA disability programs. It’s been eleven years. I still have issues. If we had Beyond The Yellow Ribbon
when I returned from deployment, I would have had fewer issues.”

“Beyond The Yellow Ribbon points people in the right direction.”

“Before (Beyond the Yellow Ribbon) the returning soldier couldn’t have guard duty for nine months. The soldier had no one to talk to (isolated from others who served). Gen. Larry Shellito saw this as a problem. He asked Chaplin John Morris to ‘build me a program to change this’. Change it they did. Now within two weeks upon returning (from deployment) to Minnesota we had a weekend drill (retreat) with significant other and family. We had over 800 troops gather that weekend. They bought ever motel room in town.”

“Everyone watching out for each other and what can we do to help.”

“Beyond The Yellow Ribbon covers all cycles of deployment. Before during and after. We are here for the whole thing.”

“We don’t want them (Veterans) to be forgotten and lost. We will be there for them for whatever they need.”

“We never walk past a veteran. We always thank them. We always say, “Welcome Home.” We honor those who’ve served.”

“War is hell. We are trained and assigned to disable or kill people. We use methods that us Christian people would not condone. Yet, if you don’t (use these methods), you don’t go home. “

“If you were in your car today and driving down the road and see a kid. You stop. Now you send a young man to Iraq. The first time driving a company down the road. A kid jumps out. You don’t know if the kid is wearing explosives. You can’t stop, because if you did you would put the whole unit in jeopardy. That driver does not forget it. Suppresses it and then it comes back years later to haunt him.”

“The soldier is given a mission to take the life of the enemy. They go out in the morning knowing that. He (their enemy) has a mission, too, and his job is to take care of you. Hope your training is superior to his.”

“Every soldier is our son and daughter. All those troops become a part of your family. We’re the information conduits. We cover a broad range of different professions in our group. We’re a family who takes care of our veterans.”

“Families reach out to us when their soldiers go off on missions. A lady called us, because we were the only civilians allowed to talk with the commander on the ground. Her boy was on the same mission as our son. We heard on the news that people (soldiers) were getting killed. She wanted to know if her son was still alive. Hardest phone call in my life.”

“It isn’t just the soldier that gets impacted. It ends up being us. It’s the entire nation. Either one gone or a hundred eighty-six gone. It’s all the same. A life loss.”

“If the politicians had to wear the uniforms we wouldn’t have a war.”

From these shared thoughts we collectively wrote Beyond The Yellow Ribbon.

Beyond The Yellow Ribbon

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon
To prosper, to grow
We need to bring those veterans
All the way home
To be of service
To those who serve me and you
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon
Beneath the red, white, and blue

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon
With friends and family
Where no one is forgotten
In this community
From those who’ve been deployed
To those deployed at home
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon
In body, heart & soul

It’s not just the soldier
It’s me and you
We’re in this together
Together we’ll make it through

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon
War is hell! War is hell!
Forced to do the unspeakable
Some stories are hard to tell
We’re here to listen
We’re not here to judge
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon
Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons

It’s not just the soldier
It’s me and you
We’re in this together
Together we’ll make it through

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon
This one thing I know
We’re standing with you
‘Til you’re all the way home
Before, during, after
We are here for you
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon
Beneath the red, white, and blue

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon
We are here for you

Words & music by Larry Long
with Bill Cassavant, Jamie Cassavant, Jenny Amon, Jim Buckmiller, Laurie Anderson, Staff Sergeant Mathew Metcalf, Suzanne Staver, Paula Lundgren, Tamy Kraft, Shannon Stassen.

© Larry Long Publishing 2014 / BMI

American Roots Revue will be performing this Thursday & Friday, August 14th & 15th in Crookston, Minnesota, as part of Ox Cart Days to honor our Veterans, in partnership with Beyond the Yellow Ribbon and the Crookston Chamber & Visitor’s Bureau.  Free & Open to the public!

The 4th Annual Veterans Recognition Ceremony is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. at UMC Kiehle Auditorium.  We will be honoring three Veterans this year and will also be doing a special WWII presentation. We have the privilege of having the American Roots Revue performing their song “Welcome Home” at the ceremony. They have also agreed to sing the National Anthem at the beginning of the program.

Service Flag Line at Entrance – Civil Air Patrol

3:00 p.m.              Doors Open at Kiehle Auditorium

3:15 p.m.              Color Guard by B-Co 2/136 CAB

Service Flags by Civil Air Patrol

National Anthem – American Roots Revue

Pledge of Allegiance

3:30 p.m.              Welcome by Master of Ceremonies – Police Chief Paul Biermaier

3:35 p.m.              David Chaffee – Introduction and Presentation of Plaque by Paul Biermaier

3:40 p.m.              Jim C. Sheridan – Introduction and Presentation of Plaque by Leo Luettejohann

3:45 p.m.              Robert “Bob” Young – Introduction and Presentation of Plaque by Rich Simmons

3:50 p.m.              WWII Plague Presentation by Bill Cassavant, Chairman BYR to Chuck Whiting

Polk County Administrator

3:55 p.m.              “Welcome Home” song by American Roots Revue

4:00 p.m.              Retirement of Colors – B-Co 2/136 CAB

4:05 p.m.              Downtown Square for the Flag Retirement Ceremony presented by the Boy Scouts

4:15 p.m.              American Roots Revue – “Veterans Honor” song and “Crookston” song

Flag Retirement Ceremony by the Boy Scouts

5:00 p.m.              American Roots Revue Concert in the Town Square

After the Veterans Recognition Ceremony, everyone is invited to the DownTown Square to participate in the Flag Retirement Ceremony.  This ceremony shows the dignity and respect that is given to properly dispose of the flag that has flown with honor but is no longer suitable for display.  The American Roots Revue will be performing their special song being written for Crookston and will be performing their concert after the Flag Retirement Ceremony in the Town Square.

“This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.”