A highlight of Mayville State University's Homecoming 2015 festivities was the dedication of the Military Honor Garden on the grounds of the Edson and Margaret Larson Alumni and Leadership Center at Mayville State. The Avenue of Flags provided by the local American Legion Post 8 beautifully enhanced the Military Honor Garden monument which was the centerpiece of the event. The program was headlined by remarks from Military Honor Garden project co-chairs and Mayville State graduates, Dr. Martin Johnson and Lt. Gen. Emil “Buck” Bedard. Johnson served as a corporal in the Marines in the 1960s. Bedard, a retired three-star general, spent more than 37 years in active duty with the United States Marine Corps. An Argyle, Minn. native, Bedard now lives in Las Vegas.
In his remarks, Bedard reflected on how his experiences at Mayville State formed the basis for his life of service. “We gave up the terms ‘I’ and ‘me’ for words like ‘team’ and ‘we’ and who we are together,” he said. “I think that really epitomizes what we do in our armed services. It’s about the team and what we do collectively.”
Bedard mentioned several of his college professors and all of the things they taught not only about their academic subject matter, but also about life in general. He commented on how his experiences as a college student at Mayville State have benefitted him throughout his lifetime. Only a percentage of the knowledge gained in college came from the classroom, he said. The rest came from living in the dorms, playing on the fields, and more.
He expressed his gratitude to his football coach, Jerome Berg, for the impact he had in his life, and he talked about his former college teammates, many of whom were military veterans. They brought the leadership skills they gained through their military service to the teams.
In addition, Lt. Gen. Bedard recognized his parents, who taught him to care about others, and taught him above all to understand that “there is a God bigger than all of us.”
Bedard reminded the crowd that there are thousands of men and women in harm’s way around the world protecting our freedoms on a daily basis. These are people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude, along with all veterans, including those recognized at Mayville State’s Military Honor Garden.
General Bedard ended his remarks by elaborating on the U.S. Marine Corps motto, “Semper Fidelis,” which he said means “Always faithful … faithful to our country, faithful to our God, faithful to our Corps, faithful to each other as Marines. And I would add to that,” he further said, “faithful to our alma mater.”
The dedication program also included musical selections provided by the Full Battle Rattle Brass Quintet of the 188th Army National Guard, as well as Mayville State student Shaleen Helmer. The colors were presented and retired by soldiers with the USMC Recruiting Substation, Fargo and USMC Law Enforcement Detachment Co., Wahpeton.
The program ended on a touching and solemn note, with program emcee, MSU Foundation Executive Director John Klocke, reading the names of each of the individuals who have been honored by loved ones in the Military Honor Garden project. The ringing of a chime followed each name. The trumpeter from the brass quintet ended the program by playing “Taps” from the upper level doorway of the Larson Center.
The Mayville State alumni of Pembina County/Hoople provided a complimentary all-American meal immediately following the program. Several of those who attended the dedication stayed around to enjoy lunch and fellowship at the Larson Center.
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