Herald JournalHerald Journal, Nov. 17, 2003

Denny Frey: a promise to be true

By Lynda Jensen

The meaning behind the Pledge of Allegiance was explained to several hundred young students by Vietnam veteran Denny Frey Tuesday.

Frey spoke to the k-3 students at Howard Lake Elementary as part of Veterans Day services.

The words "I pledge allegiance," actually means "I promise to be true," Frey told the youngsters.

The rest of the pledge goes like this: "to the flag (to the symbol of our country), of the United States of America (each state that joined to make our country), and to the republic (a republic is a county where the people choose others to make laws for them, a government for the people), for which it stands (the flag means the country), one nation (a single country), under God (the people believe in a supreme being), indivisible (the country cannot be split into parts) with liberty and justice (with freedom and fairness) for all (you and me)."

"The pledge says you are promising to be true to the United States of America," Frey said.

Afterward, the youngsters lined up to chat with him and shake Frey's hand, much like the high school does during Veterans Day.

Frey as a role model

Part of the reaon that Frey was asked to speak this year was because he was named the first annual Healthy Role Model at a recent HLWW Communities Connecting Collaborative meeting.

Frey was nominated by Welton and Harriet Zander of Howard Lake.

"Dennis is very much a healthy role model to the community," commented Shirley Olson of the HLWW Communities Connecting Collaborative.

Frey believes that sports teach children a lot about life.

"Sports teach our youth how to accept defeat and that competition is good for kids because it shows they have to maintain their school work to compete," Frey said.

Frey remembers many caring adults in his life and carried this ideal into his adulthood, Olson said.

His father was injured when Frey was 15 years old and lots of people in his life looked after him, sending invitations to neighbors' homes for meals at all times, Olson said.

"If you have caring adults in your life when growing up, you always look to those adults as role models," Frey said.

Frey also enjoyed his fathers' great sense of humor and that's why Frey likes to do practical jokes.

Going back 30 years ­ Frey was a "Big Brother."

Frey was a fireman for 20 years, and was instrumental in starting the EMT fireman program in Howard Lake. He was in the first group to become part of the EMT State Association.

As a Big Brother, Frey said he had great opportunities at that time to influence young people by talking to kids in school and knowing kids on the streets and what family they came from.

In a way, he became a parent to a lot of kids, Frey said. If they were doing something wrong, he let them know it, he said.

"Legion baseball is a great program for young men," Frey said. For the past four years, he has been the Wright County director for Legion Baseball.

"I know Frey from the "Silent Santa" program," Olson said. "The county called and asked us (the Legion and the collaborative) to help, and we said yes."

Frey has been Santa for many years in Howard Lake.

"Another program we worked collaboratively on is the "Project Care" program," Olson said.

The Legion and the Howard Lake and Waverly Lions have always helped us out by purchasing the turkeys for the food baskets for approximately 28 families each year. The food baskets are then delivered by area church volunteers.

As a St. James board member, he started the first Polka Fest in 2002. The goal of the Polka Fest is a mission festival and to have a mission speaker.

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