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Fort Snelling Memorial Day service honors fallen soldiers, highlighting Normandy losses 80 years later

Fallen soldiers honored at Fort Snelling's Memorial Day service
Fallen soldiers honored at Fort Snelling's Memorial Day service 02:32

FORT SNELLING NATIONAL CEMETERY — Enduring rain was a simple sacrifice to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day, as hundreds gathered at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery Monday to reflect and remember.

"Across Minnesota today, folks are thinking 'I hope this rain stops so I can go boating, play some golf, grill out,'" Gov. Tim Walz said. "And I say that not disdainfully, but I say that because it's a precious gift they've been given."

It was a somber ceremony this year, with a special focus on lives lost in Normandy, like Jaqueline Simmons' father.

"As a young girl growing up without a father, wishing they were missing in action. That's what I always thought, and that they would be coming home," she said. "It's hard. It's even hard today, you know, that I never knew him."

Next week marks 80 years since the Allied landing at Normandy.

"At a place like Fort Snelling, we feel the gravity of the sacrifices," Sen. Amy Klobuchar told the crowd. "People who put everything on the line."

Volunteers spent time over the weekend putting U.S. flags at every gravestone at the cemetery, about 200,000 of them. It was a moving sight for those attending the annual Memorial Day service.

"There's not much that really pulls a tear from my eye aside from Fort Snelling Cemetery," military veteran Brian Greenwood said. "The sacrifice of all these men and women here is really what pulls at my heart."

Greenwood was joined by his wife Jenny and son Truman. Greenwood has six relatives buried at Fort Snelling.

"I like to bring my son out here so he can get that sense of patriotism in his life," he added.

Twenty-two-year army veteran Neil Pence visits the cemetery every time he's at the airport.

"I look at these graves and it breaks me up, breaks me up," he said. "This meaning here is I served and I died for my country and that's what it's all about, is serving. And if you die, you've given the ultimate, everything. That's what it's all about. Loving your country and making sure it's free. If it's not free, it's not worth going after."

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