‘Taps Across America’ honors fallen Moorhead soldier

Taps Across America brought thousands of musicians, family members and friends of fallen soldiers to locations all across the country to observe the solemn National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day. In Moorhead, one took place in Townsite Park at the Andrew Nelson Track near St. Joseph’s School and Church.

At exactly 3 p.m., like other buglers and trumpeters from coast to coast, Julie Krejci played the somber, distinctive melody traditionally heard at U.S. military funerals and memorials. The trumpeter stood near the memorial at the track and soccer field, dedicated in 2010, that honors Moorhead native Andrew P. Nelson, who was killed in combat on his third tour of duty in Iraq Aug. 29, 2007, along with “all men and women serving the United States of America, POWs, MIAs and unknown heroes.”

“It seems like yesterday to me,” his mother, Suzanne Nelson, confided of the moment 15 years ago when she learned of her son’s death. Surrounded by a small crowd of friends and fellow parishioners from St. Joseph’s Church, she closed her eyes in prayer as Krejci played the 24 solemn notes that touch the heart.

The running track, along with the soccer field at its center, is used by St. Joseph’s students as well as others in the south Moorhead neighborhood. Suggested by then-principal Val Ritland and athletic director Joel Savre, the $78,000 project was privately funded by gifts from family friends and relatives, the F-M Area Foundation and four local businesses. Andrew’s mother raised the funds herself with the help of Ritland, Karen Nitzkorski and Julie Goehring.

Staff Sergeant Nelson attended school at St. Joseph’s Elementary, St. Anthony’s and Sullivan Middle Schools and Shanley High School, from which he graduated in 2003. The 22-year-old died in Muqdadiyah when insurgents attacked his unit.

The National Moment of Remembrance were first observed on Memorial Day 2000 and put into law by Congress later that year. The event asks Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, to pause for one minute to remember those who have died in military service. Adding the playing of “Taps” was suggested by CBS “On the Road” correspondent Steve Hartman, who reported on a veteran who did so from his balcony in 2012.

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