Nancy Edmonds Hanson
A dozen banners have gone up without fanfare along Main Avenue in downtown Moorhead, but the pride they represent leaves a lasting mark on the city.
Positioned on light poles between Fourth and Sixth Streets, each of the triangular red, white and blue pennants features the likeness of a Moorhead native currently serving in the military. The mission of recognition quietly percolated over the winter at the suggestion of Moorhead Police Chief Shannon Monroe. Their unveiling, overshadowed by the pandemic, took place last month.
“We put out a call last fall for friends or family who wanted to honor active military personnel from Clay County,” city planner Kristie Leshovsky explained. Twelve answered the call, contributing the $100 cost of each display. The 48 by 20 inch banners are produced at a cost of $100, either donated by the family or by a resident wishing to salute a man or woman whose loved ones can’t afford the fee.
The banners rippling in the wind today represent only the first batch, Leshovsky said. Plenty of light poles remain for additional names and faces.
Linda and Paul Skatvold were among the first to sign up in honor of their daughter, Marine Lt. Col. Anne Braden. Anne, who graduated from Moorhead High School in 1998, realized her dream to be a pilot when she enlisted at the end of her studies at the University of Wisconsin in 2002. Her appetite for the air was whetted when she completed ground training during her years at MHS. She was the only woman in the class – a distinction that has continued through her military training, first at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, and then at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi.
Anne, who picked the C-130 as her aircraft of choice, has completed two tours of duty in Okinawa, deployment to Sicily and Spain, and assignment to the Pentagon. Her college major in geology and master’s degree in water resource management led to her assignment as a liaison to Marine bases on environmental regulations. Today she works on projects in the Marine commandant’s office.
The Moorhead native – whose husband George is a fellow Marine – comes from a family with deep military roots. Her late grandfather Merle Skatvold served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Her parents met in the Army, where Paul served in Army Intelligence and Linda was part of the Army Nurse Corps. Brother Eric and his wife Karina are Navy veterans.
Lynn and Ken Brown are honoring their son Shawn, a sergeant major in the Green Berets who commands 180 soldiers. Like Anne, Shawn is a Moorhead High School alumnus. He left for boot camp, his mother said, on the day after graduating from MHS in 1998. Currently he’s stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado.
Shawn has served in the Special Forces for 22 years. During that time, he has become a certified jumper and completed mountaineer and sharpshooter training. He has been deployed to Iraq three times and twice each to Afghanistan and Africa. He’s due for retirement on a year and one-half.
“Yes, I’m extremely proud,” Lynn reported. “I’ve parked in the M&H lot downtown a couple times just to look at his banner.”
Shelly and Ron Carlson’s son McKinnon enlisted in the Air National Guard three years ago in January of his senior year at MHS. He was drawn to the Air Guard by the example of his grandfather, Ron Carlson Sr., who was an officer in the Air Force. He was recently promoted to Senior Airman.
McKinnon has completed technical training in vehicle operations. Like other members of the National Guard, he devotes one weekend a month to the service.
“When we watched him graduate from basic training (at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas), I don’t think I could have been more proud,” his mother confessed. “He was a new person. You could see the level of pride he’d created in himself.”
She added, “I think it’s so important to recognize the members of the Guard who do this service in our community. With just a phone call or a text, they’re instantly ready to go. They do so much.”
Carlson would like to see the program expanded next year beyond those currently on active duty to encompass others whose service is complete.
Other members of the military honored in the first batch of banners along Main include Brian Melton, Owen Cullen, Neil Taylor, Abigayl Kuck, Gabriel Anderson, Wyatt Hanson, Jacob Hanson, Mitchell McKaig and Susan Schroeder. To add a military banner for another man or woman on active duty, go to www.cityofmoorhead.com/about-the-city/active-military-banners