MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

June 18, 2016

Come check out the Military Honor Garden during Alumni Day festivities!


There’s another flurry of activity on the south lawn at the Edson and Margaret Larson Alumni and Leadership Center at Mayville State. The finishing touches are being completed at the Military Honor Garden. Work in the area will be wrapped up just in time for this year’s Alumni Day festivities on June 24. You may recall that ground-breaking for the project was held during Alumni Day festivities last June. A very special dedication ceremony was held in October in conjunction with Homecoming 2015.

Mayville native Lute Simley, and his son, Scott, are organizing and implementing the landscaping plans. We truly appreciate these men who are so very generously giving of their time and talents to make this beautiful garden a reality. Lute, who designed the landscaping plan, has enlisted some help from community volunteers, including Dennis Peterson and Jay Henrickson, who spent an afternoon helping with landscaping this week. We sincerely appreciate their efforts. We’re grateful to the folks with Jeff’s Electric, Craig Klabo, and Kris Moen, who were able to jump right in and get their work done quickly with the June 24 goal in mind, and to SRS Commodities for their donation of black dirt for the project.

The Alumni Association, together with Dick and Cleone Whelan, are sponsoring an ice cream social on the lawn at the Larson Center from 2 to 3 p.m. on June 24. This will be the perfect time to see the completed Military Honor Garden! Please bring your lawn chair and spend the afternoon enjoying the beautiful surroundings while listening to music provided by the First and Farmers Filharmonic. To make the occasion even more special, the American Legion Post 8 Avenue of Flags will beautifully enhance the area.

The Military Honor Garden features a life-sized bronze eagle in flight sculpture, flags, night lighting, and gardens. All five branches of the military are represented on the granite centerpiece on which the eagle sculpture stands. This beautiful and meaningful project is a tribute to Mayville State employees, students, and friends, and community men and women for their patriotic service in America’s Armed Forces. The intent is to honor anyone who has served in the military. Those honored definitely can be, but do not have to be, Mayville State alumni.

Martin Johnson, 1966 Mayville State graduate and USMC Corporal, and Lieutenant General Emil “Buck” Bedard (Retired, USMC), 1965 Mayville State graduate, are heading up the project. These men have worked hard to ensure that the Military Honor Garden is an extra-special and meaningful tribute to those who bravely served, and continue to serve, to uphold our country’s liberty and freedom.

We are grateful to Marty and Buck for taking charge of this project, and to the many people who have given their financial support to make it happen. This is a beautiful permanent monument that proudly honors our veterans for their patriotic service in America’s Armed Forces. It is our privilege to recognize our military heroes for all that they’ve done.

Many people have made gifts of $500 or more to the project so that they can have the name(s) of their loved ones engraved on granite plaques that are incorporated into the memorial walk. In addition, Valorie Brown, Cavalier, N.D., widow of David G. Brown, a 1971 graduate of Mayville State, has donated the amazing bronze statue depicting a life-sized bald eagle in flight in memory of her husband. Two beautifully engraved granite benches flank the eagle statue. One was donated by Dixie and Larry McGillis in honor of Dixie’s dad, Edwin, and his six brothers, all who served in World War II, and all who came home to Edmore, N.D. The second bench honors and remembers all American military recognized as KIA, POW, and MIA. The bench was provided by friends and teammates of Melville “Buzz” Lurth, Jr., who graduated from Mayville State in 1968 and was killed in Vietnam in 1969.

There is room for expansion. If you’re interested in sponsoring a granite plaque in honor of a loved one, I would encourage you to do so. If you can do it soon, we’ll be able to include the name of your loved one in the ceremony that will take place during homecoming festivities on Oct. 8. Plans are to have a ceremony to recognize all who are honored in the Military Honor Garden each year during homecoming. Please contact Dena Bergstrom at or 701-788-4864 to learn more. You can also see more information and make your gift online at

We cordially invite you to join us at Mayville State for all of the Alumni Day 2016 festivities. The schedule includes guided campus tours, an ice cream social, and an evening social at the Mayville Golf Club. The Class of 1976 and their friends will be gathering for a 40-year celebration. In addition, we’ll be recognizing this year’s Distinguished Alumni and Distinguished Service Award recipients during an afternoon social and at the annual Alumni Association Awards Dinner. Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are Dr. Nannette Bagstad, Randy Eken, Al Larson, and Dale Norton. Jerold Bietz will be recognized posthumously as a distinguished alum. Doug Petersen will receive the Distinguished Service Award. A limited number of banquet tickets are still available. Please call 701-788-4687 or go online to You can also see the full Alumni Day schedule at