|June 19, 2014
Tribal community welcomes Murdoch’s at grand opening
By Lailani Upham
Two local honor guards, the Veterans Honor Guard and the Warrior’s Veterans Society present colors while the three flags: United States, Flathead Nation, and Montana state, fly high above the new Murdock’s store. (Lailani Upham photo)
POLSON — Their belief is community involvement – and Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply store have proven that principle earlier this month during their grand opening ceremony.
It’s a rare scene to see a major store open up on the Flathead Reservation or any Indian Reservation for that matter with a drum honor song and Native Color Guard, but last Thursday, June 5, the Salish and Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille flag was raised along with the U.S. and Montana state flag to recognize the partnership of the community the store site sits upon.
Frank (Stanger) and the Crew offer honor songs during the ceremony. (Lailani Upham photo)
Frank Stanger and Crew opened up the ceremony with an honor song and more while the Warrior Veteran Society and other local honor guard the Veterans Honor Guard posted colors for the large group of customers and employees on Thursday, June 5.
The actual force behind the guard and drum set up was Marine veteran Chuck Lewis. Lewis says he approached the store manager prior to the grand opening to open it in the right way with patriotism and culture.
Murdock’s employees and customers stand in respect during the honor song. (Lailani Upham photo)
Lewis is a strong advocate for wounded and disabled veterans. Last year he travelled 3,300 miles across the U.S. on foot in six months to raise money and suicide awareness for the fallen troops and families. Lewis’s project “Walking For the Fallen” spurred from a suicide death in the Mission Valley of a returning Marine who arrived home and three weeks later was buried, leaving behind a wife and a one-year old daughter.
Marine veterans Frances “Plassie” Stanger, Salish-Pend d’Oreille elder; and Chuck Lewis stand in reverence during the singing of the national anthem. Stanger served during the Korean War and Lewis during Vietnam. (Lailani Upham photo)
Murdoch’s store manager Bob Burke who was transferred from the Missoula store where he managed for six years says he felt the ceremony to be “very powerful” and loved the patriotism and heritage of the community.
Knowing what is important in small community is not only the philosophy of Murdoch’s but for Burke as well. Burke says both his children are serving in the military; one Air Force and the other Army.
Burke said he appreciates the warm welcome he has felt in the community since he arrived for the unofficial opening in March.
Employees cheer after the cutting of the ribbon by Murdock’s store manager Bob Burke. (Lailani Upham photo)
Although the warm welcome is valued Burke says the core value of the company is what keeps him connected. The philosophy is simple – staying involved in the communities they serve in four ways: giving volunteer time and expertise, hosting events in their stores, investing in local sponsorships with measurable results, and offering an employee giving program.
The honor guards file out at the end of the ceremony where a crowd of employees and shoppers gathered to see the patriotic and cultural ceremony for the grand opening. (Lailani Upham photo)
The belief? To exhibit the gratitude to the communities and folks who welcome the “family” stores to the area.
Burke says that’s what they look for in the employees that are onboard as well - those that demonstrate the affections to their communities and families.