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Lindstrand honored by the DAR

WILLMAR -- As a large crowd gathered at the War Memorial Auditorium in Willmar Friday evening, to mark Veterans Day, Jonathan Lindstrand was completely shocked when he was asked to come forward during the annual program and accept a major nationa...

Briana Sanchez / Tribune Tracey Clark tears up Friday during a changing of rank ceremony for her son, Ryane Clark. The Clark family accepted the award on his behalf.
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Tracey Clark tears up Friday during a changing of rank ceremony for her son, Ryane Clark. The Clark family accepted the award on his behalf.

WILLMAR - As a large crowd gathered at the War Memorial Auditorium in Willmar Friday evening, to mark Veterans Day, Jonathan Lindstrand was completely shocked when he was asked to come forward during the annual program and accept a major national award.

The Daughters of the American Revolution recognized Lindstrand for the years he has dedicated to local veterans by bestowing on him its highest honor - the Medal of Honor.

"It is an extremely great honor to be recognized by the DAR and the community," Lindstrand said.

The award ceremony was a surprise, known by few people. Willmar's Daughters of the American Revolution chapter, lead by Julie Moorhead, presented the medal to Lindstrand.

"We were very proud to do that," Moorhead said at the program.

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The Medal of Honor is given to a native born American citizen who has shown leadership, trustworthiness, service and patriotism.

Sydney Eddy, a member of the Willmar chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, said the group began looking into the Medal of Honor for Lindstrand after hearing so much about his mililtary collection and the other work Lindstrand has done over the years.

"He does so much for the community," Eddy said in an interview with the Tribune.

The application process for the medal isn't easy. Not only did the Willmar members have to collect news clippings, interviews and letters of recommendation to add to the application, they even needed to have a copy of Lindstrand's birth certificate.

"We had to go through a lot of hoops," Eddy said. Lindstrand's mother was interviewed and provided the birth certificate, Eddy said.

The application first had to be approved by the state Daughters of American Revolution before moving on to the national level.

"It didn't take them long to realize he is a pretty amazing person," Eddy said.

For the last 18 years, every Veterans Day, Lindstrand has put on display the United States Military Historical Collection, a collection of thousands of military uniforms and artifacts Lindstrand and others have collected over the years.

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"I'm trying to make sure the history of our veterans is remembered," Lindstrand said.

In addition to the military collection Lindstrand has been involved in many veteran events and programs. He helps put wreaths on the graves of veterans during the holidays, he assisted in bringing the Vietnam Memorial Wall to Willmar this summer and he has taken part in Honor Flights which bring World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the war monuments.

For the past few years Lindstrand also worked to identify the remains of John Anderson and bring him home to Willmar. Anderson was killed on D-Day and was buried as an unknown in the Normandy American Military Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. After Anderson's remains were positively identified he was finally brought home and buried in Fairview Cemetery over Memorial Day weekend this year.

In his speech during the Veterans Day program Friday, Lindstrand explained why he puts so much time and effort into helping veterans, and preserving and protecting their stories and history.

"Our veterans deserve our honor, our respect. We're here because of their sacrifice," Lindstrand said.

While Lindstrand is honored by the award, personal recognition was never something he sought. He said he tries to keep his name out of most of his work for veterans.

"It has always been about the vets. It's never been about me. It shouldn't have anything to do with me," Lindstrand said to the Tribune.

He also wanted to make sure those who help him do what he does are noticed as well.

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"This entire event doesn't fall on just me. There is a ton of people that make this happen. All of them deserve recognition," Lindstrand said.

Clark promotion

Also as a part of this year's Veterans Day program, the honor and respect for the sacrifices made by the military and their family was put front and center. The family of Ryane Clark, who was killed on Oct. 4, 2010, while serving in Afghanistan, gathered to witness the promotion ceremony of Clark in front of a somber crowd of community members.

"It is never too late to do the right thing for a soldier that has given so much to their country," said Lieutenant Colonel Keith Ferdon, commander of the 682nd Engineer Battalion.

Clark was posthumously promoted to the rank of Specialist, in part thanks to the perseverance of his family, who worked to make the promotion possible, Ferdon said. To mark the promotion, the flag that was draped over Clark's coffin was honorably moved from one display box to another, which included the insignia marking Clark's promotion.

"Our debt to you is immeasurable," said Commander Mitch Schueler, who was emcee of the program.

Clark was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the vehicle he was a passenger in. Clark was part of convoy conduction, a mine-clearing operation at Shekhabad, south of Kabul.

Clark was a 2007 graduate of New London-Spicer High School, where he was on the wrestling team. He also earned his Eagle Scout award as a member of the Boy Scouts.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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