(Highlanding, Minnesota is a former townsite near the city of Goodridge-about 17 miles east of Thief River Falls, Minnesota. GN)
Recently, a soldier’s remains were identified as that of Corporal
James Sund, prisoner of war as of February 12th, 1951.
Corporal Sund enlisted in the Army during World War Two and then went
into reserve status after the war. He was called up again for the
Korean War (June 25th-1950 through July 27th-1953) and died April
4th, 1951. He was originally listed as “missing in action” but
eventually his family placed a gravestone at the Highlanding Cemetery
to mark his passing. The fact of Corporal Sund’s passing is pretty
well known, I was curious about his life.
I spoke with Sund’s niece, Marilyn Stanley. She tried to help me
create the picture of a 28 year-old man, called from his home near
Highlanding, to fight (and serve with distinction), be held captive
and die in what has been called our nation’s forgotten war, Korea.
James Sund was one of 10 children born to Evan and Marie Sund. Evan
Sund died when James was just a child. I know people who’ve lost a
father when very young (my dad) and they grow up very quickly and are
able to bear responsibility beyond their years. The children of the
Great Depression have born incredible burdens yet this pressure
created strong character. James Sund must have been like this
whether it was as he helped operate the family farm near Highlanding
or as he gave all for his country.
James Sund did the things a young man did in those times for
recreation; he liked to help neighbors, play cards in Highlanding
with the neighbor boys, did some cross-country skiing, trapped on the
river and hunted. You always hear how the Army loves us country boys
because we can shoot; I bet Sund could shoot-I bet he was a good
Pastor Bob Dahlen shared with Marilyn Stanley a quote from a soldier
he’d met, “we went to war prepared to die, but none of us were
prepared not to come home.” I think this is the real story of a
soldier held in captivity. It must be lonely to wish for it and yet
not know when you will come home.
Corporal James Sund will get to come home, soon. I know that when we
die, our soul separates and leaves our body. I’m sure Corporal Sund
has known peace all of these years since his death, however I think
it would be natural for even our eternal souls to have concern about
what happens to the earthly body they once illuminated. This is one
of many reasons that it’s so good to find James Sund and return his
remains to Highlanding. My hope, and belief, is that Corporal Sund
knows he is coming home.
Tuesday, James Sund will see Highlanding again and find rest under
the gravestone set years ago in hopes he would eventually return. But
first a trip around the section; to see the old farmstead, swing by
Highlanding where he played cards with his friends, maybe stop and
check how high the river is, see a thicket where he flushed a deer or
stop to recall the exquisite sting of bitter cold on bare skin during
a ski trip. All of these little moments such a reminder of what it is
to live in this area-tangible evidence that Corporal James Sund is
Here is Corporal Sund’s obituary