By Anna Jauhola
In the last year, a Hallock graduate created a painting memorializing four Kittson County men who were killed in action during the Vietnam War.
Little did he know the impact it would have on someone close to him.
Al Reddington grew up in Hallock and graduated in 1962. He had enlisted, but missed out on going by one day when he broke his leg in a vehicle crash.
“You feel kinda guilty about having not gone. But then, on the other hand, all the stuff going on there even other than the war – a person’s probably lucky they didn’t get involved,” Reddington said.
Although he felt guilty about not serving, he also felt relieved after finding out the intricacies of the Vietnam War.
Through the years, Reddington began painting images for friends who had served in the military and giving them away.
“I’d look up things of interest about when and where they served, and then paint it and send them the picture,” Reddington said.
One day, he decided to create a painting for his oldest son who serves as a pararescue in the military. This led to the idea of painting the Vietnam Memorial featuring the names of Kittson County’s fallen soldiers of that war — Robert Bengtson, Milo Homstad, Richard Knutson and Richard McGovern. Homstad and McGovern were brothers to his sisters-in-law, Cindy Homstad Cedergren and Sue McGovern Cedergren.
He hopes the painting is a good tribute to these men, but he didn’t know it would have such an impact on his brother, Ken Cedergren.
“I’d painted the picture and Kenny had seen it – he’d been in Vietnam. He was emotional about it, so, then I was just fine with giving it to him,” Reddington said.
He had no specific plan when painting the picture, but found himself crafting white orbs floating in front of the Vietnam Memorial and ghostly white silhouettes of soldiers on the grass in the foreground.
“I figured those were orbs of people who died over there,” Reddington said. “The white soldiers, I would say they’re somewhat ghosts of the people who are on the wall.”
Although the painting will hang in a private home, Reddington hopes it’s image will remind people of the atrocities Vietnam veterans suffered.
“People just tend to forget,” he said. “And the people who were there, it’s important for them that others remember. I think (the painting) is just something so they’re not forgotten.”
By Anna Jauhola