Minnesota Memorial Day ceremonies mark sacrifice, virtually

Two people wearing face masks stand at a grave.
Mark Wojahn and Laurel Ziemienski visits the grave of Wojahn's father Monday at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Many Memorial Day ceremonies were held virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kerem Yücel for MPR News

Across Minnesota, veterans’ groups and others remembered the sacrifices of those who served with pre-recorded elements common to such events, including speeches and rifle salutes by squads wearing protective face-coverings.

The recorded video ceremony at Fort Snelling National Cemetery featured military officials, political leaders, the 34th Infantry Division Red Bull band, and a flyover.

Gov. Tim Walz said as a politician, he often uses lessons learned during his 24 years in the National Guard.

"And this Memorial Day is unlike any other. During these challenging times it's especially important that we pause and reflect on those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation," the DFL governor said.

Retired four-star general Joseph Votel said it's important to remember that freedom requires sacrifice.

"These are not difficult things to grasp. But I do think it is the responsibility of every citizen in our country to talk frequently and with some passion about the sacrifices of those who have given the last full measure of devotion for our country," he said.

Walz mentioned by name three National Guard soldiers who died in a helicopter crash in central Minnesota last December.

The ceremony ended with rifle salute, by the Fort Snelling National Memorial Cemetery Rifle Squad, all in masks, and then taps over the national cemetery.

Other ceremonies were noted on social media, including one by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

The Gary New Duluth Memorial Day program, also featured recorded speeches from the memorial. U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber recalled the sacrifice of Dante Tini, a 19-year-old from Virginia, Minn., who died at Pearl Harbor. Stauber, a Republican, said remembering heroes may be more appropriate now.

"At a time when our country is dealing with a crisis, and may seem more divided than ever, remembering those willing to give their lives in defense of our great nation, is something that should unite us all as Americans," he said.

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.