Story submitted by Steven Solmonson
For 41 years, the Veteran volunteers of the Fort Snelling Memorial Rifle Squad in Minnesota have never missed a funeral – until Covid-19. On Wednesday, March 18, the squad was ordered to stop operations at the end of their last funeral. In any type of weather, since 1979, the 125 members of the volunteer rifle squad at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, have provided military funeral honors for those who have served.
A recent news story on the Twin Cities CBS affiliate (WCCOTV-4), caught the attention and heart of Moments Hospice chaplain and retired Air Force officer, Steve Solmonson. “It absolutely broke my heart when I heard they will not be able to honor our Veterans and their surviving family members. I felt an overwhelming desire to do something to say thank you and to show our support for all they have done.”
Moments Hospice had planned an event to serenade residents at Meadow Ridge Senior Living in Golden Valley and they were able to leverage the occasion into something bigger to help honor and recognize the sacrifice and service of the rifle squad. Chaplain Steve contacted rifle squad commander Mike Pluta with the idea of providing 125 pizzas to thank each of its volunteers. Commander Pluta said we would love to take your “thanks and appreciation,” but would prefer if you paid it forward to those on the front lines helping others during the pandemic. Steve found a willing partner to work with the Moments Hospice Foundation in Papa Murphy’s pizza and they were able to provide pizzas and discount coupons to the staff at Meadow Ridge Senior Living and at Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners (IOCP). The effort provided support to 50 staff members at IOCP and 50 of the people it serves, to help during this most difficult time.
One hundred and twenty five acts of kindness shared in the community to thank 125 volunteer members of the rifle squad who have served so many veterans over the years. Moments Hospice is a proud hospice partner of We Honor Veterans.