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'He Loved His Nation': Fallen Veteran From Blaine Honored At Memorial Park Dedication

BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) -- A first for the city of Blaine Monday.

A new park dedicated to veterans from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror hosted its inaugural ceremony.

There's a memorial for the fallen, as well as a bench honoring a hometown hero.

A Memorial Day ceremony in a new Veterans Memorial Park dedicated to all who served. It was during this inaugural ceremony the fallen are remembered, honored and celebrated.

A four-plane flyover followed by a missing man formation.

This ceremony reminded all in attendance the high cost of freedom. It also honored a Gold Star family.

"It's a tremendous honor for the Valentine family to be here and to have our Tom be recognized for his service," Christina Valentine said.

Thomas Valentine was a 1989 Blaine High School graduate. Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Valentine was a highly decorated and elite Navy SEAL who had nine deployments and was killed while preparing for his 10th.

Blaine Veterans Memorial Park
(credit: CBS)

"He loved the military, he loved the Navy, he loved his nation and being a SEAL was OK. That was really at the bottom of the list, it was his country that he loved the most," Christina Valentine said.

Monday, his hometown showed how much they respect and loved him.

For this family, it's bittersweet to see Valentine honored during the city's first Memorial Day celebration in this new park. His widow Christina says the hardest part was seeing the flag being raised in his honor.

"Last time I saw that flag it was laying over his casket in Arlington," Christina Valentine said.

But this time the honor of accepting the flag went to their children, Meghan and John.

"My children didn't get a choice. Tom volunteered. I said yes. Meghan and John didn't get a choice, and so I felt really compelled that they receive that flag today. They were too little when he died," Christina Valentine said.

"I can never forget that day," Meghan Valentine said.

Never forget the loss and forever grateful for those who remember and honor their dad and all the other service members who gave their all.

Thomas Valentine holds several medals. He is also credited with eliminating the most senior terrorist leaders in a critical region in Iraq and capturing several suspected terrorists.

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