On the day that Grand Forks Police Officer Cody Holte, 29, was shot and killed in the line of duty, his friend Ryan Lindberg was checking out some tree plantings on his property northwest of Buchanan, N.D.
It was May 27, 2020, and the Stutsman County Soil Conservation District had been planting thousands of trees and shrubs on Lindberg’s property.
“Literally ... right when I got out there to look at them is when I got the call that he had passed away,” Lindberg said.
Holte was assisting deputies from the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office who were serving an eviction notice at a Grand Forks apartment when they were fired upon. He had served with the Grand Forks Police Department for three years at the time of his death. He left behind a wife, Mandy, and infant son.
As Lindberg looked at the trees and absorbed the news about the loss of his friend, he thought about honoring him in some way.
“And I just thought that that would be a perfect spot for it, for this memorial, because I wanted to do something for him …,” Lindberg said.
A brief ceremony for the memorial dedicated to Holte was held Sunday before Holte’s family, friends, law enforcement from around the state and the North Dakota National Guard about 10 miles northwest of Buchanan.
A 25-foot flagpole with a U.S. flag stands at the site of "Cody's Grove," where there is a custom-made bench donated on behalf of the 817th Engineer Company of the North Dakota National Guard and a large granite slab on a block. Etched in the granite slab is information about Holte and what happened to him.
“People that don’t know or didn’t know Cody, I just want his name to live on forever and that stone’s going to be around a lot longer than I’m around, the etching,” Lindberg said before the ceremony, “and anybody that reads that in the next hundred years is going to know who he was.”
He expressed his appreciation to those who helped make the memorial possible.
Lindberg met Holte and the two became friends while they were serving with the 817th Engineer Company in Jamestown. Holte spent five years in the 817th before becoming a member of the 815th Engineer Company of Edgeley, which he was serving with at the time of his death.
“He was a guy that never didn’t have a smile on his face,” Lindberg said. “He was the type of person that brightened the room in any circumstance.”
U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., spoke at the dedication Sunday, noting to the law enforcement and soldiers present that each had chosen to serve and all have families who care and worry.
He later said Holte’s death shook North Dakota.
“When you die in the line of duty trying to protect your fellow officers that immediately puts you in the rarefied category of just heroism that most people don’t even … imagine ever being part of,” he said.
“What I’ve learned over the last year about Cody is just how close he was to so many people and how many people just feel his loss every day and I think that’s what’s so cool about this (memorial) up here,” Armstrong said. “... it’s very intimate, it’s very personal, it was done by a colleague and a friend and not part of an organization.”
It was created by people who cared about Holte and still care about him and his family, he added.
“This is the most North Dakota thing in the best way possible,” Armstrong said. “It really is. It’s tough. I can’t imagine what they (the family) go through on a daily basis with a young kid and a widow ... but it makes me feel just proud to be a part of something, how many people have their back, how many people still continue to recognize the service and the person that Cody Holte was.”