FL soldier’s proposal kicks off Independence Day Parade
Megan Lohse claims that she is not the type to wait for people. At least not for just anybody.
In the case of Ryan Rosdahl, however, she has waited three times, and each has been more unbearable than the one before.
Lohse’s patience paid off last Wednesday. Rosdahl, a twice-deployed member of the Army National Guard, used the Forest Lake Independence Day Parade as a platform on which to ask for her hand in marriage.
“I was crying so hard, the only part I remember was ‘Will you marry me?’” Lohse says. “That was it.”
First date, first wait
Given how they first met, the breathtaking moment that Rosdahl and Lohse shared with hundreds of onlookers last week is even more unlikely.
Ryan, a Forest Lake native, worked with Lohse’s mom, Candy Anderberg, at the Blue Heron Grill in Hugo in 2009. After months of talking about meeting, Ryan and Megan were finally set for a blind date at the Blue Heron that June. When Megan was on the way, though, Ryan got a call from his sister’s boyfriend, who needed a ride. Thinking it would take a half hour, Ryan accepted. In fact, a flat tire contributed to a trip that ended up taking several hours.
“I get back there and she was just about to leave outside the door,” Ryan recalls. “She’d been sitting there for three hours waiting for me.”
“And I don’t wait,” Megan adds.
Somehow, the 2002 Forest Lake High School grad smoothed it over and even earned an invite from Megan to a family gathering that night. Within two weeks, they were dating.
The longest wait
Megan and Ryan became serious and Candy continued her role as facilitator by continually prodding Ryan about engagement.
“Her mom would bring it up every day,” he says. “…‘Nope, it’s probably not going to be for awhile, so don’t even go there.’”
Just as Ryan began to entertain the notion, he got word that he would be deployed in the spring of 2011. A year stationed in Kuwait was on the docket for his second tour of duty, following a 2004 deployment to Kosovo.
The couple, by this point, decided they would test the odds and commit to staying together through the tour.
“There was no second-guessing myself at all,” says Megan, a Circle Pines native.
“We were both pretty set,” he says. “In our minds we were probably hooked forever. This was going to be the first major obstacle in our relationship, to survive the one-year deployment. Statistically, not many people do, especially in an early relationship like that…
“So she ended up waiting again, for a year.”
Ryan and his comrades in the Bravo Company 1-194 Cab 34th Infantry Red Bulls of East St. Paul equipped the Iraqi forces with supplies while aiding in the withdrawal of American troops.
Communication was limited at first as Ryan’s company conducted missions into Iraq, but eventually he was able to reach Megan via the Internet on a more regular basis.
“They do very well with communication,” he said, noting the United Service Organizations (USO) and the Army Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) services. “It’s huge for us to be able to contact home and loved ones.”
Meanwhile, Ryan formulated plans for a quick proposal upon his return stateside. He and his mom and sister would even have “Skype dates” with the women located at a jewelry store.
More and more, he realized he wanted to propose in front of family. He considered making the big move immediately upon reuniting with Megan and his family, but uncertainty about logistics of his late-April return caused him to scrap that plan.
Once back, another opportunity went by the wayside. He thought about proposing during a housewarming party at their home in Eagan, but not everyone he wanted there could make it.
“So then I started to think what else I could do to kind of give her that ‘wow’ factor,” he says.
The 28-year-old had one more idea: the Forest Lake Fourth of July Parade.
The final wait
Having walked with the veterans in the famous parade, Ryan knew the big celebration would be a prime opportunity to propose.
“I thought that would be a real cool way to do it, kind of celebrating me coming home and Independence Day,” he says.
With the blessing of parade organizers secured, Ryan’s mind was made up. He made final plans with the announcers the morning of the parade. Meanwhile, family and friends played cool and kept Megan oblivious as they took post near the start of the parade route across from the American Legion.
“There was the national anthem and they called him up and I’m cheering for his name and not thinking anything of it,” says Megan, 23. “All of a sudden I hear my name and I’m like, ‘Uh, oh.’ I was in shock and his mom actually had to push me out there.”
From there, it gets blurry on both ends.
“As soon as it was my cue, I went up and around and my words just went out of my mouth,” Ryan recalls. “I had absolutely no idea what I was going to say. I had it all planned out and then I lost it. I don’t know where all the words went.
“It’s like tunnel vision. You get up there, especially around all the people and at that moment you know everybody’s looking at you. I have absolutely no idea what I said.”
Whatever it was, it worked. Megan took her hands off her gaping jaw long enough to accept his proposal, to the cheers of a delighted crowd.
“You know, girls have this vision of how they’re going to get proposed to. At that moment it doesn’t matter,” she says. “It really doesn’t. You’re just so overwhelmed and excited.”
The moment was beautiful, but a fact soon dawned on Megan – she would have to wait again! Off her fiancé went with the parade, not to return for another two hours.
Word of the first proposal in the parade’s 88-year history quickly spread through the crowd. Ryan was flooded with well wishes on his way back to Megan, and they in turn were greeted over and over for the rest of the afternoon.
“People, all over, every corner, three people at a time would come up and say congratulations,” Ryan says. “It was really cool.”
From there, the new celebrities enjoyed the pool and grilled at the house of Megan’s aunt in Lino Lakes as they soaked in the picture-perfect day.
The big stage, the holiday timing and the element of surprise were great, but they were secondary in Ryan’s mind. The affirmation that he would spend the rest of his life with Megan mattered most.
“It was such a great day, it didn’t really matter what and who and where it was going to take place,” he says. “It was going to take place and it was going to be a great day.”