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Ground broken for memorial to military families

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Ground was broken Wednesday for a new memorial on the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol to honor military families, KSTP reports.

The Minnesota Military Family Tribute, designed to honor the families of active and veteran members of the military, will be the first of its kind in the nation, according to organizers.

Gov. Mark Dayton, U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen and members of military families were among the dignitaries who scooped the first shovels of dirt at the ceremony.

When a soldier is deployed, an entire family is deployed, said Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, and he said it's important to recognize their sacrifices as well.

“Mother is sitting home watching the news like she’s never watched it before, wondering if her son or daughter is there,” said Shellito, according to WCCO.

The Minnesota Military Family Tribute will be built on the southern end of the Capitol grounds, and will have three design elements:

– A walkway lined with trees, benches and flowers, including red poppies.

– "Story Stones," one representing each of Minnesota's 87 counties. The stones will be etched with excerpts of correspondence sent between soldiers and family members.

– A Gold Star table, symbolizing the family dinner table. Gold Star families are those who have lost loved ones in military service.

The $1 million cost of the project was covered by private donations. Construction is expected to be complete in about a year.

The Military Family Tribute will join more than 20 other monuments and memorials on the Capitol grounds. You can take a virtual tour of those monuments on this Minnesota Historical Society page.

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