MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

April 21, 2018 

Honor a loved one at the Mayville State Military Honor Garden

The Military Honor Garden, located on the grounds south of the Edson and Margaret Larson Alumni and Leadership Center at Mayville State, pays tribute not only to those who died during their service to the country, but also to those veterans who came home to their loved ones. It is our privilege to provide a beautiful place where we can honor these very special men and women. While the snow is still melting and a spring clean-up is in order, I encourage you to stop and see this beautiful tribute, either now or when spring is in full bloom. With Memorial Day coming soon, it is a good time to think about honoring a loved one at the Military Honor Garden.

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.

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, the late Valorie Brown, Cavalier, N.D., donated the amazing bronze statue depicting a life-sized bald eagle in flight in memory of her husband, David G. Brown, a 1971 graduate of Mayville State who passed away several years ago. 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 at the Military Honor Garden. If you’d like to sponsor a granite plaque in honor of a loved one and can do it soon, we’ll do our best to include the name of your loved one in the garden prior to Memorial Day in May. Please contact the MSU Foundation staff at or 701-788-4750 to learn more. You can also see more information and make your gift online at When you purchase an engraved plaque to be placed in the Military Honor Garden, a portion of the funds will be used to support a new veterans scholarship fund at Mayville State.

On special occasions, such as Homecoming, when we have a special service of remembrance at the Military Garden, the local volunteers with the “Avenue of Flags” have enhanced our permanent memorial with additional flags. While the permanent memorial on its own is beautiful, the addition of dozens of extra American flags is stunning!

The “Avenue of Flags” is a project that operates under the umbrella of the local American Legion. About 150 U.S. flags have been purchased in in honor of and in memory of local veterans. A handful of volunteers display these flags at the funerals of local veterans and in honor of other special occasions such as Memorial Day and July 4th. The number of donated flags has grown to the point where organizers need to purchase a trailer equipped to adequately store and haul the flags from place to place.

Plans are underway for an event that will be held to raise funds to purchase the trailer. A burger and brats cookout will be held at the Goose River Lodge in Mayville on Monday, May 14, from 5 to 7 p.m., followed by the formal ceremony of the burning of worn and tattered flags. I encourage you to stop by the cookout to enjoy some delicious food while supporting a great cause … honoring our military veterans. Look for the avenue of flags!