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‘Ride for Healing’ to arrive in Bemidji Wednesday

BEMIDJI — Events honoring veterans won’t end on Memorial Day in Bemidji, or in communities throughout the state for that matter.

On Wednesday night, a yet-unknown number of veterans will ride into town as part of the statewide Veterans of Foreign Wars "Ride for Healing." Four groups of bikers and classic cars will leave St. Paul on Monday and travel to the four corners of the state before meeting up in the Brainerd area May 31 for two days of events.

One of those groups will visit VFW posts and communities in the northwest corner of the state, including Bemidji.

For Bruce Malterud, the commander of the local VFW post, the ride symbolizes a welcome home that Vietnam veterans never received.

"Vietnam veterans have kept that hurt with them," he said, recalling the unwelcome return home many received from the politically contentious war. "Times have changed since then."

Malterud, who served in the Army during the war, said he is trying to sign up the local motorcycle and classic car groups to escort the riders into town. He plans to meet up with them at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Naylor’s Heating and Refrigeration in Wilton, and escort the incoming riders to the National Guard Armory in Bemidji for dinner and a program at 6 p.m., which is open to the public.

Malterud is also hoping to collect memorabilia like letters and photographs from veterans’ families at the armory as well, which will be sent to the future Education Center adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. That project was chosen by state VFW Commander Lee Ulferts as the group’s fundraising focus.

"He wants to get the whole community involved," Malterud said.

To contact Malterud about getting involved or have memorabilia to donate, call 766-3898.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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