Daughter, fallen soldier recognized

The daughter of a fallen soldier and student at New England Public School was honored during a ceremony in the New England school gymnasium.

Messa Kuehl and her family pose with Arlen Halverson, Kuehl is holding the drawing of her late father. (L to R) Halverson, Kuehl, Messa's mother Amy, Shyann Awender, and Koedyn Awender.
Messa Kuehl and her family pose with Arlen Halverson, Kuehl is holding the drawing of her late father. (L to R) Halverson, Kuehl, Messa’s mother Amy, Shyann Awender, and Koedyn Awender.

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

The daughter of a fallen soldier and student at New England Public School was honored during a ceremony in the New England school gymnasium.

On Nov. 18, Messa Kuehl was presented with a hand drawn photo of her father in front of the student body, with faculty and staff on present to witness the special occasion. The drawing was done by Sarah Lefor of Dickinson. Lefor has been commissioned to do several other drawings of fallen soldiers from North Dakota.

Kuehl’s father, Staff Sgt. David Kuehl, was deployed to Iraq and killed in action while serving the country.

Presenting the award was Arlen Halverson, who commissioned the drawing. Halverson is a member the North Dakota Patriot Guard. The Patriot Guard is an organization that strides to ensure respect at memorial services for fallen members of various public service members.

According to their website, Patriotguard.org, their mission statement reads:

“The Patriot Guard Riders is a 100 percent volunteer, federally registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization which ensures dignity and respect at memorial services honoring Fallen Military Heroes, First Responders and Honorably Discharged Veterans.”

Halverson also is the sponsor to Kuehl and her family, and has been present with the family at various ceremonies for the past couple of years.

Kuehl was originally set to receive the drawing in Bismarck on the Sunday before Veteran’s Day, but inclement weather forced the ceremony to be rescheduled.

Kuehl was unaware that she would be given a token honoring her father.

After Halverson was introduced, he gave a short speech about what his organization is and what it stands for. He called Kuehl up to the front of the student body and said a few words about her father.

Carrying a manila folder containing the drawn picture, Halverson knelt down and opened it for Kuehl to see. Emotions quickly came to the surface and she was comforted by Halverson.

The moment was contagious.

Eyes of both the students and faculty became heavy as people in the audience tried to hold back their emotions as best as they could. Some did better than others.

The crowd was silent as the ceremony continued and, as the students were escorted out, the day gradually went back to normal.

Though the hustle and bustle of the school’s hallways resumed, Halverson, Kuehl and her family sat for some group photos.

Students walking by still were taking notice of the family that had lost their loved one and one gave his appreciation as he passed by.

“Your dad did a good thing,” he said, a testament to Messa Kuehl and the duty her father served as a member of the U.S. Armed Services.

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