ST. PAUL, Minn. – After more than a decade of work, the Minnesota Medal of Honor Memorial is complete.
The memorial sits at the entrance of the Minnesota State Capitol Campus, and it's built around the "Promise of Youth" sculpture for a reason.
The memorial has been 10 years in the making, designed with future generations in mind. Tiffany Kovaleski is co-chair of the memorial board.
"It's a capstone memorial as you enter the Capitol Mall," Kovaleski said. "We have taken the Promise of Youth and put it in the middle of the Minnesota Medal of Honor Memorial so that the generations can keep passing on the same character, virtues and values that their recipients exuded on those horrific days."
Carved into the memorial the words that Medal of Honor recipients leave as their legacy: Courage, commitment, sacrifice, integrity, citizenship and patriotism.
"It brings the next generations and connects them with service, and whether you've served in the military today or in the past, it's everybody's job to have service and character," Kovaleski said.
The Medal of Honor is the highest and most prestigious military decoration. Minnesota's recipients were remembered with a fly over of World War II vintage aircraft and a volley of cannons from the nation's oldest active cannon battery.
Medal of honor recipient Tom Kelly knew two Minnesota recipients.
"It's good that their service can be recognized and the general public can come by here with their kids and say, 'Who were these men?' And find out these men were just ordinary people like their kids and did extraordinary things," Kelly said. "And you don't have to be in combat or the Army or first responder in order to do heroic things and make a difference in somebody's life and show moral courage."
This memorial now carries this message of service, having strong character, values and virtue forward.
In all, 72 Minnesotans have been honored for risking their lives above and beyond the call of duty. There are only 65 Medal of Honor recipients still alive in the country today.
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