The Minnesota State Band launched the ceremony with "When Eagles Soar." Gov. Tim Pawlenty praised the generosity of people who serve in the military.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said at times, the American public hasn't supported soldiers as they should have.
"Anger at decisions by political leaders caused too many to show disdain toward those who served on the front line. That was wrong," Klobuchar said. "You can ardently and forcefully disagree with a policy, but you must always support those who serve our country."
Klobuchar said Congress is making great strides in improving care for veterans and their families.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty asked Minnesotans what they are willing to give for their country in times of strife. He said soldiers need to be appreciated during these challenging and controversial times.
Pawlenty said soldiers are courageous and full of valor, but they are more, too.
"Those other words are words of strength, and they're well-deserved, and they all should apply to the people who serve in our military, but these are also incredibly generous people," Pawlenty told the crowd. "Incredibly loving people, because they are willing to give everything they've got, including their lives for our country and for us."
Pawlenty said he wants to make Minnesota the most veteran-friendly state in the country.