A new memorial dedicated to military families was dedicated on the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol Saturday.
The Minnesota Military Family Tribute, designed to honor the families of active and veteran members of the military, is the first of its kind in the nation, according to organizers.
Several hundred people came out in the rain Saturday for the dedication ceremony, MPR News reports. Among the dignitaries who spoke were Gov. Mark Dayton, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
The memorial is located on the southern end of the Capitol grounds, and has 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 are inscribed 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.
Ted Lee, the designer of the monument, said it is specifically meant to pay tribute to military families.
"When a soldier deploys, it’s more than just him," Lee said, according to WCCO. "It’s their entire family, because everyone back here has to think about that and remember and miss that person."
Construction on the $1 million project began about a year ago. The cost was covered by private donations. The campaign to build the memorial was begun by the Minnesota Military Family Foundation, which provides financial assistance to military families.
The Military Family Tribute joins 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.