Fresh off D.C. and Normandy trip, duo will have Fourth of July message

by Jim Boyle

Editor

“We gave you our lives, now give them their meaning.”

That’s but one of countless quotes reiterated, passages read, concrete inscriptions displayed and keynote messages delivered that Salk Middle School teacher Ron Hustvedt and former Salk Magnet student Matti Martin of Otsego have been trying to digest on their trip to Washington, D.C., and before making their way to Normandy, France.

Ron Hustvedt and Matti Martin at a ceremony. The pair comprises one of 15 student-teacher teams from around the country on a trip to Washington, D.C., and Normandy, France.

Ron Hustvedt and Matti Martin at a ceremony. The pair comprises one of 15 student-teacher teams from around the country on a trip to Washington, D.C., and Normandy, France.

It’s the kind of question they will be expected to come to grips with — and have an answer. That includes when the pair will speak at the opening ceremonies for the fourth annual Elk River Independence Day Celebration at Lion’s Park in Elk River.

Hustvedt and Martin  joined 14 other teacher-student teams chosen from around the country to study the Allied landings in Normandy during World War II. The program, “Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom,” has taken these history buffs to Washington, D.C., and soon France for a 12-day excursion through history.

As part of it, they will be eulogizing Virgil John Tangborn, a soldier who died in the invasion.

Ron Hustvedt and Matti Martin will visit the site where a Minnesota soldier died in the invasion of Normandy.

Ron Hustvedt and Matti Martin will visit the site where a Minnesota soldier died in the invasion of Normandy.

Sponsored by the Albert H. Small Student and  Teacher Institute and National History Day, the program includes lectures by George Washington University history professors, “white glove” inspections of artifacts at the National Archives and dinner with the U.S. ambassador to France.

Tangborn, born in Iowa in 1920 before moving to northern Minnesota in 1930, is the focus of the pair’s study.

According to information on the pair website and blog (http://rememberingdday.weebly.com), he worked on a farm until he was drafted in 1942, according to Army records.

Originally a French horn player in the 90th Division Band, he — and other band members — were assigned as medics or stretcher bearers before D-Day.

Matti Martin placed a single rose at the World War II Memorial in a visit to Washington, D.C. The Otsego  student who attends the Blaine High School Center for Engineering Math and Science and is a former Salk Magnet student will get even more in touch with Minnesota’s sacrifices in Normandy, France.

Matti Martin placed a single rose at the World War II Memorial in a visit to Washington, D.C. The Otsego student who attends the Blaine High School Center for Engineering Math and Science and is a former Salk Magnet student will get even more in touch with Minnesota’s sacrifices in Normandy, France.

Tangborn was killed rescuing a wounded soldier during a Nazi artillery barrage. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for gallantry and is buried at the American Military Cemetery at Omaha Beach in St. Laurent, France.

Martin and Hustvedt have studied diaries Tangborn kept.

Martin plans to continue her research after her return in an effort to build a lasting database of Minnesotan soldiers killed during the invasion.

The Elk River Independence Day Committee has asked that Hustvedt and Martin speak during the opening ceremonies and program on July 4 at Lions Park in Elk River about what Independence Day means to them in the face of all they have learned.

The Independence Day  program, which will include an Elk River Idol contest and music by The Wrong Omar Band featuring Joe Shaheen and special guest Becky Shaheen and headlined by the Shane Martin Band will start at 4 p.m.

More than 73 Salk students, parents and teachers recently spent four days in Washington D.C. in what has become an every other year tradition. Here they are in front of the United States capitol.

More than 73 Salk students, parents and teachers recently spent four days in Washington D.C. in what has become an every other year tradition. Here they are in front of the United States capitol.

Flags will be presented by the Elk River Police Honor Guard and Elk River Scouts and lead into a reading of the Declaration of Independence’s preamble and a helicopter landing.

Retired WCCO radio broadcaster Dan Hertsgaard, who has lived in Elk River for 20-plus years, will serve as the announcer. He will also pay tribute to local law enforcement and emergency personnel.

Hustvedt and Miller, having just heard taps performed at a wreath laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial, will speak once the honor guard’s guns punctuate the air at Lion’s Park, 1104 Lions Park Drive.

Hustvedt, who was a finalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year this school year, had Martin as a student at Salk.

Martin is now a senior at Blaine High School’s Center for Engineering, Math and Science program.

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