A solemn ceremony honoring fallen Minnesota troops Monday touched on service through generations. The Memorial Day tribute at Fort Snelling National Cemetery included music from the 34th Infantry Division Red Bull Band and remarks from political and military leaders.
Hundreds of people attended the ceremony in Minneapolis under bright sunshine, the grounds decorated with American flags at headstones.
Retired Naval Lt. Commander Mike Peterson recalled his “friend and comrade SEAL Team Leader, Warrant Officer Eugene Tinnin."
Peterson said during a 1968 battle in Vietnam they were able to extract fallen and wounded members of a team including Tinnin, who died as a result of friendly fire.
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U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar says attending the event has become more personal in recent years. Her father, Jim Klobuchar, is buried there. She was curious to learn about soldiers who are buried near her dad. Klobuchar says she found Private Charles Leslie Conan, Private First Class Charles William Nelson and First Lieutenant Archie Stein. Only one, Conan, saw the end of the war.
“They died not knowing if the Allies would defeat tyranny, without the knowledge that through their sacrifice, they helped ensure and protect our freedom and our future, and where America is still America,” Klobuchar said. “We get to live in that future right now because of their sacrifice.”
For Gov. Tim Walz, who served decades in the Minnesota National Guard, the observance of Memorial Day even among so many people, is the “most profoundly individual of times.”
“I walked through that gate, and I have that deep sense of reverence. I have those feelings that I can't imagine the numbers,” Walz told the audience.
“And then as you sit here, and you're thinking to yourselves, whether it's family member friends or others, you can't help but think, what would have happened in those lives? Had they not died at 19?”
A rifle volley and taps closed the ceremony.