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By Jacqueline Devine jdevine@swpub.com Jul 20, 2021

If you’ve recently driven around Prior Lake and noticed local veterans on downtown banners, you can thank Prior Lake resident Mark Kes for initiating the Hometown Hero Banner Program.

The Prior Lake Hometown Hero/Military Banner Program was established in 2020 with the help of the Prior Lake VFW Post 6208, in partnership with the city after Kes wanted to honor his son, Jaden Kes, a U.S. Navy active duty veteran, in some way in the community

The program recognizes and honors individuals who made the choice to serve in the United States Armed Forces.

“I have a son who is in the Navy and my wife started talking to the VFW and they wanted us to talk to the city. So, we talked to the city and they wanted it to be a joint venture and make it something bigger,” Mark Kes said. “Last year we did active military personnel and this year we did the Vietnam veterans since we’re losing a lot of those veterans on a yearly basis now. We’re going to have a theme every year.”

There were 16 banners in total honoring active military members the first year in 2020 including Jaden and 44 banners honoring Vietnam veterans this year. The banners are displayed Memorial Day through Veterans Day on light poles each season on Main Avenue SE from Pleasant Street to 160th Street.


U.S. Army veteran Roger James Kes’ Hometown Hero banner hangs in downtown Prior Lake. Kes served in Vietnam from 1967-69.

Submitted photo

Honoring Roger Kes

This year, in honor of Vietnam veterans, Mark decided to honor another family member as a surprise to his cousin, Aaron Kes, who currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona, by hanging his father’s banner downtown.

Aaron, who was traveling on a business trip, decided to stop and visit family in Prior Lake once he found out about his father’s image being honored in the community.

“I didn’t know until the banner was up. My first reaction was that it was just a really nice thing,” said Aaron Kes. “As someone who lost a parent, it’s nice to have anything that honors them or reminds you of them. It was a really cool thing having it up in the town that we’re from. It’s a really special thing and I thought it would be cool to see. This whole trip was to see it.”


Aaron Kes stands in front of his father’s banner in downtown Prior Lake. Kes’ father was Roger James Kes, a U.S. Army veteran, who served in Vietnam from 1967-69. 

Submitted photo

Aaron’s father, Roger James Kes, was a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam from 1967-69.

Roger was born on Sept. 22, 1949 in New Prague, Minnesota. He died Nov. 13, 2002 at the age of 53 in Glendale, Arizona. Roger spent the first half of his life in Prior Lake where he attended school and graduated from Prior Lake High School. He married Carol Pahl on July 18, 1970 and lived in Prior Lake until 1988 until they moved to Arizona.

Roger’s older brother, Don Kes, who is the second oldest of eight siblings and resides in Prior Lake, said Roger was wounded during the war and was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries he endured while on active duty.

“He was wounded one time. There were 11 soldiers in the platoon one time and they were surrounded. They had to shoot it out, four of them were killed and he was one of the wounded,” said Don Kes. “He was sent to Australia right after that for recovery. He was there for two weeks and then came back and they put him back on the front line because he was an expert shot. He ended up with malaria and had a dislocated shoulder. He wasn’t really the same when he got back.”

Aaron Kes said his father was the strong, silent type but had a good sense of humor as well.

“My dad was a quiet guy, I think Vietnam had a lot to do with it because he went through some stuff but he was a fun guy,” said Aaron. “He was a bit of a sarcastic rascal and I definitely got that from him. I definitely get a lot of my sense of humor from him too. The two things we could always talk about was sports and military shows. He was a hard working man, he worked like crazy. He was just a good guy.”

Aaron Kes said his father also had a love for Christmas and would always take the time to decorate the family home.

“He’d always take off the week of Thanksgiving to make a big display at our house,” said Aaron Kes. “As a kid who didn’t want to work, I always had to reluctantly help him. But it always felt so special. Our neighbors would always slow down just to look at it. He was very into it in Minnesota too but when we moved to Arizona he stepped it up big time because it was easier with no snow.”


Military Banner Program soldier pictures from 2020 including U.S. Navy active duty veteran, Jaden Kes, pictured on bottom right.

Courtesy of Prior Lake VFW Post 6208

Community pride

Prior Lake Mayor Kirt Briggs said he is proud to have the Hometown Hero Banner Program in the community.

“The citizens of Prior Lake and the tribal members of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community have a long and rich history of serving the country in uniform,” said Briggs. “The Hometown Hero banners on Main honors those that have served and invites each of us to reflect on our past and give thanks to those that served.

“As a Purple Heart city, Prior Lake has long recognized and appreciated the sacrifices that have been made by our veterans and those in active service today. It is wonderful to hear that many family members are traveling in to Prior Lake to visit the banners and join us in honoring our Hometown Heroes.”


Kes family members sit with Prior Lake Mayor Kirt Briggs. Front row from left to right: Don Kes, Kirt Briggs, Mark Kes. Back row: Aaron Kes and Jim Kes.

Submitted photos

Aaron Kes said the military banner program was a great way to show support.

“It makes me feel like I’m a part of something special,” he said. “I didn’t know my dad obviously when he was in Vietnam, but I know it was a big part of his life. Any time he would tell stories about it his eyes would light up, not with excitement, but you can tell it was a really important to him. I think I’ve only seen him cry two times ever in my life. I think honoring him and active duty veterans is a wonderful thing.”

For more information on the Prior Lake Military Banner Program visit vfwpost6208.com/military-banner-program/.The banner program is completely non-profit and operated by volunteers.

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Happy Father’s Day 👨 👩 ❤️

“A father is someone you look up to no matter how tall you grow.” —Unknown

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! #fathersday


Forty four banners honoring Vietnam veterans are now hanging in downtown Prior Lake along Main Ave. thanks to the City and the VFW. You can search for a particular banner using our interactive map.

Watch the video:


By Barnini Chakraborty WashingtonExaminer

A house with a white picket fence and a big backyard might have been a staple of the American dream once upon a time, but if the Biden administration gets its way, the dream could soon be out of reach for millions of people.

As part of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan , the Biden administration is pushing local governments to allow apartment buildings in neighborhoods that are restricted to single-family homes. The administration claims it’s a way to ease a national affordable housing shortage and combat racial injustice in the housing market.

Current zoning laws that favor single-family homes, known as exclusionary zoning, have disproportionately hurt low-income people who can’t afford to move to the suburbs, the administration said. Their only choice is living in crowded apartment buildings. Biden’s proposal would incentivize local governments to get rid of exclusionary zoning by awarding grants and tax credits to cities that change their zoning regulations.

While the proposal has had some bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, not everyone is on board.

Critics claim the federal government’s plan would change the landscape of towns and cities across the country and torpedo the American dream.

“The Biden plan’s backers are hypocrites,” former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey said . “Biden himself owns a four-acre lakefront home in upscale Greenville, Delaware, where there is absolutely no public housing, affordable housing, or rentals that accept housing vouchers. And don’t expect any to be built next door to the Bidens.”

She added that Biden “has always had a passion for stately homes and swanky addresses, even buying a 10,000-square-foot mansion that once belonged to the DuPont family, of 19th-century gunpowder wealth. Not exactly the sort of housing setup you’d associate with ‘Scranton Joe.'”

Regulating land use and zoning has largely been a function of local government. Critics claim that the Biden administration is now dangling millions of dollars in front of cash-strapped local governments in order to pressure them to change.

“I live in Irving, Texas, or as the leftists in Biden’s administration would call it, sprawl,” Rep. Beth Van Duyne, a Texas Republican, said. “If you live in a home that dares to have a yard, trees, space between you and a neighbor, and you work hard to pay a mortgage, you are likely a target.”

Van Duyne, who was the mayor of Irvine from 2011 to 2017, added that exclusionary zoning is “nothing more than a smokescreen to eliminate single-family zoning and break the burbs.”

“Biden’s desire to eliminate single-family zoning is for one reason, to destroy our suburban neighborhoods as we know them,” Van Duyne told the Washington Examiner . “Democrats are using this Trojan horse of an infrastructure bill to ‘reimagine’ our communities and erase single-family homeownership and locally run schools.”

Van Duyne claims that owning a home is one of the best ways to build and accumulate generational wealth but that in liberal states, “stopping the growth of single-family neighborhoods has already begun to take root.”

Zoning laws were relatively rare in the United States until a 1917 Supreme Court decision struck down laws designed to block black people from buying homes and property in white neighborhoods. The decision prompted local governments to adopt various rules that set minimum lot sizes and prevented building apartment complexes in single-family neighborhoods. Some of the urban areas with the tightest restrictions in place include coastal cities such as New York and San Francisco, according to a 2017 University of Pennsylvania study .

While some states haven’t budged in decades when it comes to deregulation, others are taking a proactive approach.

Earlier this year, Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed a $627 million omnibus bill that included a “housing choice” measure that changed zoning laws to allow local officials to approve zoning changes with a simple majority rather than a two-thirds plurality. The move is the most significant step the state has taken in five decades toward deregulating its housing market.

“That might seem like a small change, but proponents argue it can break major logjams in getting housing built,” Scott Beyer, the owner of the Market Urbanism Report, recently wrote . “The law represents a win for the growing nationwide movement to get state-level preemption of local zoning policy.”

Efforts to get “housing choice” passed in 2018 failed after some lawmakers thought it went too far while others argued it didn’t go far enough.

In May, the Charlotte City Council took a big step toward eliminating zoning laws that only allow single-family homes that would ultimately make it easier for developers to build duplexes and triplexes in neighborhoods without deed restrictions. Supporters said it would increase the city’s housing supply, but councilwoman Renee Johnson said she opposed the measure.

“I think this has opened up the door and the floodgates for gentrification in neighborhoods like Hidden Valley and other vulnerable neighborhoods, so I voted no,” she said .

The city council will vote on the final plan at the end of June.

Sacramento, California, also took its first steps to eliminate traditional single-family zoning this year. The city council voted unanimously to proceed with a draft zoning plan that would allow up to four dwelling units, the Sacramento Bee reported.

City officials said the move would help with the housing crisis and making neighborhoods with good schools and pristine parks available to those who could not afford the cost of buying a home in the area.

“Everybody should have the

opportunity to not only play in Land Park but to live in Land Park,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said. “That’s the Sacramento that we all uphold, that we love, that we value, and you better believe this drive for inclusion and equity is the driving force of our city, and it is going to continue well beyond my tenure here.”

Minneapolis has also allowed small apartments to be built in residential areas across the city, and in 2019, Oregon became the first state to end single-family-only zoning in cities of 10,000 or more statewide.

Please read more at NewsBreak:


I came across this opinion By Ayaan Hirsi AliIn the NewsBreak App posted from the New York Post and thought it was to valuable not to share. Please feel free to share with your friends and family.

Also, comments are always appreciated.

Thanks 🙏 John K. Siskoff

I saw tribalism rip a country apart — and now it’s happening in America

By Ayaan Hirsi Ali

May 11, 2021 | 12:28pm 

About a decade ago, when I worked for the American Enterprise Institute, I had to force myself to go to lunch with a friend. I dreaded the meeting because I knew that she was going to try to convince me to leave my job. AEI is a pro-business, conservative-leaning think tank in Washington, DC. My friend was an enthusiastic liberal.

After I had run out of excuses, the day arrived and, predictably, after a few minutes of the usual small talk, my friend launched into a tirade about the Iraq War, which several of my colleagues strongly supported.

“You don’t belong there, Ayaan,” she said.

I remember trying to steer the conversation on to actual policies. I had voted for supporting the American coalition in Iraq when I was a Member of Parliament in the Netherlands — and I started to explain why.

But she wasn’t interested in a rational discussion. She interrupted me mid-sentence, launching into a monologue about John Bolton, the former ambassador to the United Nations and a fellow at AEI (and subsequently national security adviser to President Donald Trump). Bolton, my friend insisted, was a loathsome, hateful, racist, neo-conservative warmonger. The list went on and on until eventually she said that he looked like a walrus with a mustache. You could tell by his physiognomy, she explained, that he was a psychopath.

“But what about the policies?” I responded, trying to redirect the conversation away from personalities. The more she spoke, the more I recognized her broad disposition as something I had experienced earlier in my life. Her attitude was almost entirely tribal. Two things in particular stood out: an almost blind hatred of a particular group (Republicans), and secondly, the use of deeply personal attacks on individual researchers to justify that hatred.

Today, 10 years later, this attitude seems to be the prevailing norm. Numerous studies support the hypothesis that American life — not just politics, but life in general — has become deeply polarized. The deeply divided society we now live in increasingly reminds me of clan or tribal behavior in Africa.

In Somalia, where I was born, my mother was blindly loyal to our clan. So much so that, apparently, she claimed she could detect the malicious intentions of an individual from a different clan just by the structure of his forehead. She would, for example, often warn my father that someone was trying to take advantage of him, purely by the way he frowned.

In “Culture and Conflict in the Middle East,” anthropologist Philip Carl Salzman recounts meeting tribesmen in Baluchistan. What, they had asked Salzman, would he do if he faced a real danger in his home country? Well, Salzman replied, he would call the police. The tribesmen roared with laughter, then looked at him pityingly: “Oh no, no, no, they said: only your ‘lineage mates’ will help you.”

In tribal communities, neutral institutions of civil society that Westerners take for granted — such as the police, impartial courts, and the rule of law — simply do not, and cannot, exist. In such societies, everything is tribalized, and the task of building civic institutions is laden with difficulties.

In Somalia, I was taught to be suspicious of anyone from a different clan, to always think harm was coming my way and to be guarded against anyone that was “other.” I come from the Darod clan, and was taught to constantly listen to accents, examine face shapes and overanalyze all non-verbal cues, searching for any indications of a different tribe. I can still identify a Somali (and usually their clan) from across a room.

We were captives of an echo chamber, hearing constantly of the evils of the neighboring Hawiye clan. We were taught from a young age that the Hawiye were coming to rape, rob, and destroy us. In response, we amassed weapons, hoarded food and exhorted young men (as young as 12) to join the military. The looming threat of the Hawiye was so great that my mother eventually sent my sister and me abroad. 

In the end, because of such protracted tribal tensions, Somalia collapsed into civil war. Every attempt at mediation proved incapable of handling the deep-seated mistrust and hatred that accumulated by each clan over the years; tribal elders, reluctant to compromise, could not de-escalate the situation. With such high levels of distrust, the conflict spiraled into bloodshed.

While such violence has yet to seize America, all the tribalist ingredients are present. There is a blind commitment to one party or the other; emotions are running high; there is a lack of trust in civic institutions. If such tribalism isn’t overcome, it’s only a matter of time before the situation escalates.

Some of this has its absurd side: for instance, the strange ways that public health measures such as mask-wearing and vaccination have become politicized, to the point that I know of fully vaccinated people in California who say they will continue to wear masks for fear of being mistaken for Republicans. Bizarre? Of course. But it is also symptomatic of a dangerous trend toward tribalism.

We are, I fear, close to the precipice of serious destabilization. Many American cities are either militarized (Washington, DC), near a social boiling point (Minneapolis), or have capitulated to anarchist protests and pressures (Portland, Seattle).

These tribal quirks run deep on both sides of the aisle. Many Republicans continue to dispute the legitimacy of the result of the last presidential election; while on the left, the woke are eroding the Democratic Party from the inside, as identity politics displace universalist aspirations. Some citizens are viewed as part of oppressive groups, some as part of oppressed groups. A person’s individual actions can generally do little to change the immutable characteristics of the tribe to which they belong.

Just as I noticed with my friend over lunch, there is frequently a visceral hostility towards anyone who leans even slightly toward the right. Today, especially in academia, those who don’t conform with the “progressive” narrative, no matter how ethical they might be as individuals, are vilified as racists, white supremacists, homophobes or transphobes. Individuals can be attacked, canceled, disinvited or even fired for the tiniest of verbal transgressions.

This kind of intolerance has for some time been apparent in high schools, too. Another friend of mine has a daughter who attends a private school outside of San Francisco. Last year, when it was revealed that she had expressed mild support for President Trump, she was pushed down the stairs by a fellow pupil.

It was a horrifying and, one hopes, rare incident. And yet there is something very striking about tribalism: It is a basic human trait, like skin color or gender. However, despite being the natural state of being for many humans, it is not a positive or helpful trait, particularly in modern times. Tribalism developed as an imperfect social survival mechanism in the early stages of human civilization. But in modern times, it can lead to social disintegration and severe violence between groups.

The beautiful story of America, the reason so many people around the world still yearn to come here, is to a large extent founded on our rejection of tribalism and our establishment of civic, neutral institutions, based on the fundamental principle of equality before the law. These institutions are imperfect, of course, but they are far superior to the tribalism that rules other parts of the world. Our overcoming of such a natural urge is an accomplishment.

As “woke” politics strengthens its grasp on our institutions — extending beyond the educational system into the media and now many corporations — that accomplishment is being eroded. The presumption of innocence, the commitment to blind justice and the whole notion of due process are all falling victim to spurious notions of “equity” and “anti-racism” — both of which carry within them an implicit intention to discriminate on racial lines.

If we continue to slip down this path, the thirst for tribalism will be unquenchable. That’s why moderate liberals need to stand up to the destructive forces that are taking over the Democratic Party, just as moderate conservatives need to resist the tribal impulse that often grows in reaction to the other side’s excesses.

In Somalia, we failed to do this. In America, it is imperative that we succeed.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Reprinted with permission from Unherd.