Open Standard Media Player version 1.3
VIRGINIA-It's a dedication bringing national praise.
"To those who made this memorial possible, I thank you," U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minnesota) said to a large patriotic crowd. "The people of the 8th district thank you. Our nation thanks you for establishing this most appropriate and stunning tribute to our nation's forces and heroes."
"This is what our vets deserve everyday," U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) said. "No matter if they served in Vietnam, they served in Korea, or they're serving now."
Minnesota politicians, including DFL-endorsed Congressional Candidate Rick Nolan, crowded City Central Park alongside veterans in Virginia for the dedication of a giant statue - The Iron Range Veterans Memorial.
Non-profit coordinators said the memorial, costing more than $900,000, is welcomed to the community after nearly a decade of planning and fundraising.
Nearly two thousand people including many veterans visited Saturday's event. Speakers said the artwork is meant to preserve the memory of the lives and sacrifices of those servicemen and women.
"Three values: community, honor, country to remember today as we dedicate this memorial and to remember while looking upon this place," Keynote speaker with American Legion Post 239, Dr. Cameron Jayson, said.
"Shoulder to Shoulder Even the Fallen Stand Tall" was the name given to this statue showing an eagle and soldiers at the memorial.
Ted Parson, who joined the navy in 1949 to fight in Korea, took his first look during the event dedication.
"You know you didn't really figure it was going to be that big I guess. Or impressive," Parson said about the 27 foot tall statue.
Iron Range Veterans Memorial Committee Co-Chair, Charlene Luoma, said the group followed a long range plan.
"We never aborted the mission and we never had an argument," Luoma said. "And we knew it would be here eventually so the naysayers were not in my group."
"And when I looked out today it was like I had to be pinched because sometimes we've only had a group of 9–12 here with us," Luoma said.
And after roughly ten years of official work, finally, say coordinators, memorial committee members can see the impact the space is making.
"It was just so awe inspiring. It was just so magnificent," Brenda Nelgeorge, who marches with the Biwabik American Legion, said.
And for former Chief Petty Officer Ted Parson it's an immense reminder of the people killed in conflict.
"Oh yeah, you still think about it. We had a sister ship. It took a mine and they lost a lot of people we knew and you never forget them," Parson said.
"It's just something that lives with you for the rest of your life," Parson said.
The non-profit is also selling bricks with custom engraving to honor veterans. If you would like to purchase a brick, contact the Iron Range Veterans Memorial Committee.