MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

May 27, 2017 

Memorial Day is a special day of remembrance


We invite you to stop by the Military Honor Garden, located on the south lawn of the Edson and Margaret Larson Alumni and Leadership Center, to pay your respects on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Now designated as a federal holiday observed on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and the desire those who died. This was done by decorating their graves. Over the years, the traditions have evolved. While we should honor these heroes every day, Memorial Day designates a special day of remembrance.

In an effort to underscore its importance, in December of 2000, President Clinton signed the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution. It asks that all Americans voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps’ at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.

The Military Honor Garden 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. If you haven’t been by for a while, I encourage you to stop and see the beautiful landscaping that has been done by Mayville native Lute Simley and his son, Scott. By Memorial Day, there will also be two large flower pots placed in the garden. One has been given in memory of Phyllis Enger by her family, and the other was funded by the May-Port EDC beautification grant program.

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, 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 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 be able to include the name of your loved one in the in the garden prior to the Alumni Day festivities on June 23. Please contact Dena Bergstrom at or 701-788-4864 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.

I encourage you to observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. on Monday, May 29, remembering and reflecting on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all. And please do stop by the Military Honor Garden at Mayville State to honor our heroes, on Memorial Day or any day.