Helping and remembering vets

A Minot business was recognized for helping a veterans group on the Fort Berthold Reservation, a New Town museum for honoring veterans and two individuals from Mandaree whose family members were killed in combat.

Gordon Blake, New Town, who is a member of the Myron B. Johnson-Nathan J. Goodiron American Legion Post 271 of Mandaree, presented traditional star quilts to Tom Lowe, owner of Lowe’s Printing; James Johnson, of Mandaree, brother of Myron B. Johnson who was killed March 28, 1971, in Vietnam; Harriet Goodiron, of Mandaree, mother of Nathan J. Goodiron who was killed on Nov. 23, 2006, in Afghanistan; and Calvin Grinnell, curator of the Three Tribes Museum, west of New Town.

The presentations were done Tuesday at Lowe’s Printing in Minot. Giving a traditional Native American star quilt is a special way to say “thank you” and is considered a very special honor to receive one.

Gordon Blake and his wife, Terrie, planned the presentations to be done prior to the Mandaree powwow being held through Sunday in the Mandaree community. There the members of the Myron B. Johnson-Nathan J. Goodiron Post 271 will be wearing the new patch on their uniforms.

Three Affiliated Tribes’ elder Lyda Bearstail, Nathan Goodiron’s grandmother from Mandaree, provided for the program Tuesday the opening prayer in the Hidatsa language.

The Blakes’ idea to hold a program at the Minot business resulted from having the new patch made there for the Mandaree Legion Post.

Gordon Blake honored Tom Lowe, owner, and the entire staff at Lowe’s, including specifically noting that Ardelle Kovarik, receptionist, provided suggestions for ways to use the new patch besides on the post uniforms, and Rachael Vincent, graphic designer, helped with the patch design.

Noting the variety of work that is done at the Minot business, Blake said, “You really make a lot of effort in bringing people together and presenting to the grassroots people. You really do touch North Dakota. … Lowe’s is a real North Dakota organization,” he said.

Lowe said the company has been operating for nearly 60 years and he’s been there for nearly 40 years. “We’ve never had anything like this happen before. It’s very nice,” he said.

Pointing out to the group that the patch or emblem has two names on it, Blake explained both Myron B. Johnson and Nathan J. Goodiron were combat veterans and were killed in action.

When it came time for the presentation to James Johnson, brother of Myron B. Johnson, Blake said, “I really feel your family deserves this.”

Johnson, who is the former commander of the Legion Post at Mandaree, said he appreciated what Blake was doing for the post. Johnson was commander of the post for about 18 years. Bill Hale Jr. now holds that position.

The post, formed in the 1940s, was named for Myron B. Johnson in the 1970s. Nathan Goodiron’s name was added several years ago.

Johnson said he consulted with Harriet Goodiron and then went through the American Legion national headquarters to have Nathan Goodiron’s name added to the post’s name.

“I felt it was very appropriate, even though it was two different wars but they gave their lives to their country,” Johnson said. “I’m very proud of Nathan for what he went through and the way he stood up to people. He wasn’t afraid of anything. When you join up in the service, you don’t have a 100 percent guarantee that you will be coming home. I think all the guys understand that.”

Harriet Goodiron, in accepting a star quilt from Blake, said with much emotion, that she appreciated her son is being remembered. “You know it’s going on seven years but it seems like yesterday. I always think I’m stronger but it’s still there. I just appreciate everything that everybody’s doing and want to be there to carry on Nate’s legacy in any which way I can,” she said.

The last presentation went to the Three Tribes Museum, west of New Town. Grinnell, museum curator, accepted the star quilt with the Mandaree Legion post’s patch in the center, for that facility.

Blake said the work that the Three Tribes Museum is doing will carry on through the years for future generations. The museum’s exhibits include a display on Fort Berthold veterans.

“It takes a museum and curator to keep these things in place and make sure it lives on beyond us when we pass away,” Blake said.

“We certainly will put it on display in a prominent place,” Grinnell said. “It’s an honor for all of our veterans.”

Blake reiterated his appreciation to the staff at Lowe’s for their work that impacts North Dakota and touches grassroots people, and to Johnson, Goodiron and the New Town museum “for all you have done and what you are going to do.”