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Wendy Reuer, Published April 20 2012

Flags make for good neighbors: Moorhead man leads effort to bring Old Glory to his block

MOORHEAD - If Paul Eidbo had his way, every yard in this city would have a flag flying in it.

For now, the 84-year-old U.S. Navy veteran will have to settle for the more than a dozen that fly high in his neighborhood.

About four years ago, Eidbo gathered his neighbors – who already formed what he calls a “strong block party” association – and created a flag subcommittee. The committee’s goal: to help all residents of 10th Street South put up flags in their yards.

The subcommittee offered the labor of digging the pole holes and installing the flags. With a little help from Fargo’s Fleet Farm, which offered discounted flags, homes on both sides of 10th Street South from 10th Avenue to 12th Avenue fly Old Glory from uniform 20-foot poles.

Councilwoman Brenda Elmer said she loves to drive down the street and see the colorful display of patriotism.

One of the first flags planted by the committee was in the yard of Chuck Kehler, a Canadian.

Kehler, who plans to assume U.S. residency soon, was happy to fly the American flag in his yard, but Eidbo had a surprise for him.

Kehler said two years ago on Canada Day, (a Canadian independence holiday celebrated on July 1) he awoke to see a Canadian flag in his neighbor’s yard.

When Kehler went outside, he realized every neighbor had hosted a Canadian flag in tribute to him and their northern neighbors. Eidbo had ordered the flags himself and organized the tribute in secret, Kehler said.

“It was kind of a really neat tribute that they did,” Kehler said.

As a return salute to Eidbo, neighbors flew Norwegian flags on Norway’s Constitution Day.

Eidbo is Norwegian.

Eidbo is one of at least three veterans living on 10th Street South. He said World War II had just ended before he could see action as a Navy man. A Concordia College graduate, Eidbo moved to his home on 10th Street in 1946, shortly after his stint in the Navy and long before many of the other homes in that area were built.

Eidbo made a living as a honey producer in Moorhead, where he and his wife raised six children.

Now retired and a widower, Eidbo said it’s been good to see the younger generations show their patriotism alongside the veterans.

“The other thing about this flag business is that it is nonpartisan. Both Democrats and Republicans are happy to fly the flag,” Eidbo said.

Kehler said the flags have done more than show the area’s patriotism.

“It’s been fun, and it’s really kind of brought the neighborhood together,” he said.

Since the flags began to appear, Eidbo noticed more homes in other neighborhoods are flying flags, as well. He even began to get calls from rural residents wanting to know how to wave their own flags in their country yards.

“It was very heartening to see that,” he said.

Eidbo said he’s happy to help anyone interested in flying the country’s emblem.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530