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Minnesota National Guard
Eagan proclaimed a Yellow Ribbon City

Honor conferred on Eagan and several other cities by Gov Mark Dayton


Pictured left to right Margo Danner, Mary Helfmann, "Bud" Johnson, Julie Johnson, Senator Ted Daley, Dianne Miller, and Tom Hedges Danner and Helfmann are on the Eagan Yellow Ribbon Steering Committee

On Tuesday, Gov Mark Dayton proclaimed Eagan, along with 10 other communities and one company, a Yellow Ribbon City in a ceremony held at Inver Hills Community College

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon

Yellow Ribbon Cities are part of the Yellow Ribbon Community Campaign which is, in turn, part of the Minnesota National Guard's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program The Yellow Ribbon Community Campaign brings the local community together to coalesce resources and provide support before, during and after deployment for Minnesotans in the military, regardless of the branch of the service with which they serve

According to Julie Johnson, who with her husband George "Bud" Johnson lead the Eagan Yellow Ribbon Initiative, their mission is to "support our military and military families in whatever capacity they need" 

Julie Johnson knows first-hand what kind of support Minnesota military families might need when their soldier is deployed She found herself in a similar situation years ago when her husband, now a colonel in the Air Force Reserve with a 30-year military career, was deployed to Scott Air Force Base near St Louis, Missouri 

Fort Minnesota

Johnson says, "the biggest obstacle for military people in the state is there is no military base, no close-by support for families" because the service member is attached to units elsewhere Sometimes, Johnson says, neighbors don't even know when a family member has been deployed 

The Yellow Ribbon Community Campaign is designed to help provide that close-by support to those families and become a "Fort Minnesota" so they don't feel they are in it all alone 

City Administrator Tom Hedges, who was on hand for the proclamation ceremony, said "we are proud of our military families and we are equally proud that a committed group of volunteers has reached out to help those military families The Eagan Yellow Ribbon program is a great example of neighbors helping neighbors, and exemplifies the City Council's  goal to encourage civic engagement, volunteerism and community pride"

Eagan Yellow Ribbon Initiative

Eagan's journey toward Yellow Ribbon City status began in 2009 with an informational meeting at Eagan City Hall held by the Minnesota National Guard

When nobody stepped forward to lead the effort for Eagan, Bud and Julie Johnson volunteered in what Julie jokingly refers to as "a weak moment"

So began an 18-month process to fulfill the requirements of the program which includes involvement and commitments from leaders in veteran's and civic organizations, public safety entities, the business community, schools, faith-based groups, and others, to develop a comprehensive system of assistance and support 

Sen Ted Daley, whose district includes Eagan, attended the event and is a strong supporter of the Yellow Ribbon mission Daley's family received a tremendous amount of local support when he was deployed to Iraq in 2008, leaving a wife and three small children behind in Eagan

In addition to family, a committed group of his fellow parishioners from St John Neumann Catholic Church stepped in to help Daley's wife Dawn with practical needs such lawn mowing, babysitting, home maintenance and also emotional support

"A tremendous burden lifted from my mind knowing things were being cared for on the home front and [that] there was wide community support," Daley said

The city will officially recognize the work of the Eagan Yellow Ribbon Initiative commitee at the Sept 6 City Council meeting and representatives from the National Guard also will be there

According to Hedges, "the Yellow Ribbon designation would not have been possible without the leadership of Eagan residents Bud and Julie Johnson They know first-hand how it feels to have a spouse deployed on active duty, and we as a City are very proud that they found a way to join together with the City, Eagan businesses, and our faith community to collectively serve our Eagan military families"

Volunteers needed

The Johnsons know the Yellow Ribbon proclamation is a beginning, not an ending There is more to be done to build on the strong foundation that has been put down The more businesses and citizens that step up to volunteer time or talents, the more can be accomplished and the better system of support can be put into place
Current immediate needs include:

  • A secretary to take on a board position and take notes at board meetings (6 pm on the second Tuesday of each month)
  • A webmaster to build and maintain a website for the group
  • Someone to lead fundraising efforts
  • Volunteers to mow lawns, do snow removal and perform home maintenance or car repairs
  • Businesses to donate goods or services
Interested volunteers can email EaganYellowRibbon@yahoocom
See more coverage and photos of Tuesday's ceremony

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