Hundreds of community members gathered at Carlson Ace Hardware on Main Avenue SE in Prior Lake on Saturday to witness the unveiling of a mural — “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” — that depicts the famed U.S. Marine Corps flag raising of Feb. 23, 1945 on Mt. Suribachi, dedicated to all who have served the country in uniform.
Mayor Kirt Briggs said the ceremony had a wonderful turnout and showcased how close the community is, especially when it comes to honoring veterans.
“We had a wonderful turnout, a very heartwarming turnout I would say. Veterans on motorcycles, the whole city council, a number of SCALE (Scott County Association Leadership & Efficiency) members and community leaders attended,” Briggs said. “It truly was an event that exemplifies the small town feel of Prior Lake like never before as well as our love and respect and honoring of our veterans.”
Briggs said the mural was the perfect homage to local veterans and he is very pleased with its location.
“The mural could not have found a better home. We are a city that honors our hometown heroes,” he said. “You see it in our parks, we see it on banners on our street lights and now, thanks to the Carlsons, we have a mural on Main.”
The Prior Lake VFW Color Guard, Patriot Guard, Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association and many others attended the short program. Rep. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake) said a few words after members of the Prior Lake High School Anthem Team sang the national anthem and the VFW Post 6208 led the pledge and invocation.
As the ceremony began, U.S. Marine veteran and VFW member, Ed Spieker, hoisted a flag atop the mast. The 4’ x 6’ flag had previously flown over the United States Capitol and was delivered in advance for the ceremony by Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN).
A community member donated sand that came from the beaches of Iwo Jima to be placed in the ball of the flag pole where it will remain permanently.
Family legacyMichelle Imholte, co-owner of Carlson Ace Hardware along with her husband, Al, said her family has a long history of service in the community and country. Imholte is the daughter of Bernie Carlson, founder of Carlson Ace Hardware. Both she and her husband presided over the dedication.
“Bernie Carlson, the founder of the hardware store, served our country in the Army,” said Michelle Imholte. “The Carlson family is pleased to have hosted this beautiful mural honoring those that have served and to also greet visitors warmly to the VFW in Downtown Prior Lake.”
The idea for a mural on Carlson Ace Hardware came up during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Trunk Highway 13, County Highway 21 and Main Avenue road project last year.
Speiker and Tom Lannon (now deceased) proposed the iconic scene of the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi as a fitting tribute to veterans. Local artist Greg Preslicka, who recently completed the “Yesterday and Today” mural on the Nuvera building facing County Road 21 in Prior Lake, went to work on developing a concept that would fit the space and allow for an American flag to fly above the rooftop.
Preslicka has completed nearly 100 murals including those found in the Prior Lake and Savage libraries as well as in many area schools.
Al Imholte thanked several members of the community for making the mural possible and a gift for all veterans.
“Let me begin with Ed Speiker and Tom Lannon for their service to our country and for the inspiration that brought the idea forward,” Al Imholte said. “We also want to thank Jim Moras and Highmark Builders for donating their time, talent and materials the provides us with the flagpole atop the mural. We also thank Rep. Angie Craig for providing us with the first flag to fly on dedication day.”