Never underestimate the willpower of a U.S. Armed Forces veteran.

Eight flags, flying proudly over the community of Erhard, are a proud testimony to the determination of veterans. The flags were up for Erhard’s 4th of July celebration–but the fundraising campaign was so successful, that the landscape setting was still under construction.

When Air Force veteran Gene Nygaard set his sights on a memorial for Erhard, he had a modest goal. Paver stones were sold to the families of veterans, at $100 each.

All veterans…all volunteers… This quartet led the campaign for a veterans memorial in Erhard. The flags flying above were on display at the memorial site for the 4th of July parade and festival.
From left, Ole Nelson, Gene Nygaard, Ole Anderson and Ron Stadum.

“I was hoping for 42 pavers  when we got started on this,” said Nygaard. “Now we’ve sold 95.”

With the number of pavers more than doubled, the site plan and design needs to be reconfigured to accommodate the pavers. Consequently, there were orange snow fences surrounding the flag memorial–with a sign “still under construction” when thousands of spectators poured into Erhard for its well known July 4th festival.

All totaled, the campaign has raised $16,000, said Nygaard, a lifelong Erhard resident–with the exception of his 1959-1961 tour with the Air Force.

With his squad of capable assistants, all veterans, they exceeded the goal for the memorial. The volunteers included Ron Stadum and a pair of Ole’s–Ole Anderson and Ole Nelson; all with Erhard area connections.

Area families honored veterans by purchasing blocks:

Swenson, Anderson, Peasley, Melkert, Harmon–these are just a few of the names on the pavers.

Vietnam veterans are of special interest to Nygaard. “A lot of those during Vietnam were never recognized.”

Four Haarstick brothers are among those honored at the Erhard veterans memorial.

Ole Anderson will be among the “Nam” guys. The Army veteran was in Vietnam in 1964, one of the earliest American soldiers to serve–before the conflict heated up in 1966.

The other Ole on the committee is a 1962 Rothsay graduate, who served in the Army from 1962-1965, including a tour in Germany.

Ron Stadum represents the sailors on the Erhard memorial committee. The 1964 Pelican graduate served in the Navy from 1964-68.

“We’re so proud of the community,” said Nygaard, who noted that folks with Erhard connections from as far away as Missouri purchased pavers to support the cause.

“We’ve had so much praise, and so many thank yous,” said Nygaard.

And thanks to Nygaard and his crew, veterans will have a place of honor in Erhard for generations to come.