Brad Ihrke of Spring Valley can create a "Military Memory" to honor one’s time in the United States military.  MARY WHALEN/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
Brad Ihrke of Spring Valley can create a "Military Memory" to honor one’s time in the United States military. MARY WHALEN/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
Brad Ihrke of Spring Valley was pondering a gift he could present to his uncles at a picnic in Dover, Minn., when the idea of creating personalized "Military Memories" came to mind.

Originally from St. Charles and now living in Spring Valley with his wife, Ann, Ihrke has a special dedication to family and tries to focus on living life to the fullest.

During his driving time as an employee for Weber & Judd, Ihrke has time to work out the details of projects he and Ann are working on in their home and garden as well as ideas he is wanting to develop.

"After I decided I wanted to make memorial plaques for the men and women who have been or are in the service, I wrote down what I wanted to do and went from there," Ihrke explained.

As Ihrke states on the Military Memories website, "I think that it is important to honor all our military persons, past, present and in memoriam. That is why I created these honor plaques. Each plaque has a handcrafted wooden base, an engraved and personalized nameplate, and two flags, an American flag and the flag of the honoree's branch of the military."

The bases are created from pine, cedar or oak lumber. Each has a unique grain pattern and is hand cut and finished. Prices are under $10 with $8 shipping cost for the completed "Military Memories" remembrance.

"I am not doing this to make money," said Ihrke. "What I charge covers my materials and shipping (if needed). I want people to be able to have a small way to remember or honor their loved one who served in any branch of the Armed Forces for any length of time. That's what's important to me."

Although Ihrke enjoys spending his time with family and golfing, hunting, fishing and camping, he also makes time for civic organizations and is involved with Spring Valley Sportsman's Club, is a Department of Natural Resources volunteer and teaches classes with his son, Josh, as a Firearms Safety Training Instructor.

He meets many people who have a direct or family connection with the military.

His wife, Ann, commented, "I think it is great how Brad shows pride in our American military even though none of his immediate family served in the military. Recently, when the news story came out about Paul Ness and his book, the first thing Brad did when he read it was to start preparing a plaque for Mr. Ness. I thought that was a cool thing to do for someone he had never met before."

Those interested in ordering "Military Memories" can visit Ihrke's website and decide if the pine, cedar or oak base is desired, then fill out the order information with name of the military person, rank, dates of service and the position held. Within a week, Ihrke will have a "Military Memories" memorial display ready for pick-up or to be mailed.

Ihrke knew his idea would bring loved ones joy. "When I gave the plaques to my uncles, I could see the pride in their eyes as they were recognized for their service to our country. I want other families to experience that sort of moment," he added.

These finely crafted memorials allow generations to bring honor to those who have offered such great service to the United States of America through military service.

The plaques provide an opportunity to share memories that will last forever. To order, visit the website www.militarymemoriesmn.weebly.com.