By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of Minnesota National Guard soldiers were called to emergency duty during the unrest in South Minneapolis.

During the time they were here, stories have come out that show how their communities stepped up for them. In one small town in western Minnesota, they took care of their homes while they took care of others.

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“I have family members who have served. I figured it was my turn to step up,” John Parsons said.

When he joined the National Guard eight years ago, John always expected to be called to duty for a tornado or a flood. He never expected to get the call for civil unrest in Minneapolis. Yet, that was the mission.

“We are there to protect them safely. To keep them safe and also there to protect their First Amendment right to protest,” Parsons said.

A sergeant E-5 with Bravo Battery 151 out of Madison, Minnesota, John was confident they could help restore peace. But he was less sure about the new house he had just bought in Clarkfield.

“We just wanted to help out with what we could,” public works director Troy Bruflat said.

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Hearing about John’s dilemma, Bruflat posted a message on Facebook offering to take care of lawns for any National Guard soldiers on emergency duty. Parsons’ was one of the first to get cut.

“He sent me a picture of the lawn when it was done. It’s something so small having your lawn mowed, was just awesome to have done. One less thing to have to worry about,” Parsons said.

Clarkfield even took it a step further. The city council passed a motion that they will do this anytime the soldiers are called to emergency duty. They consider it their duty to mow for the military. Not to mention anything else they might need while they’re away. People also stepped up to take care of Parsons’ dog.

“That’s why you move to a small town, you get the great sense of community and stuff like that. We want to help them out while they are out helping other people,” Bruflat said.

“Everybody has been so supportive and thankful. I almost feel guilty sometimes that people are so thankful for it,” Parsons said.

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Other National Guard members have reported that friends and neighbors helped watch their kids and made their families meals during the time they were gone.

John Lauritsen