Unity and respect are the themes of the dedication of the State Veterans Cemetery near Redwood Falls

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Work will now begin to develop 21.7 acres as part of the first of 10 phases to eventually complete an 81-acre cemetery on the site just east of Redwood Falls. It will be the state’s fourth veterans cemetery and will serve over 20,000 veterans.

The state legislature approved $ 4.5 million for the project this year after the National Cemetery Administration of the US Department of Veterans Affairs committed $ 11.2 million in 2020. Redwood County purchased the land. for the cemetery and has worked since 2009 to secure state and federal funding.

Powerful and high winds whipped the flags held firmly by members of the honor guard as large crowds, including many veterans from across the region, gathered under a tent erected for the event .

Members of a U.S. Military Honor Guard firmly hold the flags they placed on October 13, 2021 on the grounds of the New State Veterans Cemetery near Redwood Falls during a groundbreaking shovel.  Tom Cherveny / Center-West Grandstand

Members of a U.S. Army Honor Guard firmly hold the flags they placed on October 13, 2021 on the grounds of the New State Veterans Cemetery near Redwood Falls during an inauguration. Tom Cherveny / Center-West Grandstand

Highlighting the divisions that are all too common today, Governor Walz told the audience: “What you are seeing is an absolutely unified front around one of our nation’s core values, and that is the care of. those who are ready to serve.

The governor, a 24-year-old Army National Guard veteran, also spoke of the respect shown to veterans through the care provided in the state’s veteran cemeteries.

Gov. Tim Walz talks about unity in showing respect for veterans at the dedication ceremony for the new state veterans cemetery near Redwood Falls, held on October 13, 2021. Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune

Gov. Tim Walz talks about unity in showing respect for veterans at the dedication ceremony for the new state veterans cemetery near Redwood Falls, held on October 13, 2021. Tom Cherveny / Center-west stand

“Because the veterans are supporting each other,” Walz said. “The veterans stand side by side. All the differences that we see, especially when you walk into this special place, all of those differences are gone. We lie in this perfect democracy, where we are brothers and sisters in the service of this nation. “

Senator Klobuchar joined Walz in emphasizing that cemeteries have the important role of showing respect to veterans for their service. She noted that President Abraham Lincoln spoke of his importance on the Gettysburg battlefield, where 1st Minnesota held the line and saved the battle for the Union at the cost of many lives.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar speaks on October 13, 2021 about the significance of the location of the New Veterans State Cemetery near Redwood Falls.  Rural Minnesota has a higher proportion of its population serving their country, and it's important that families be close to loved ones.  Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar spoke on October 13, 2021, about the significance of the location of the New Veterans State Cemetery near Redwood Falls. Rural Minnesota has a higher proportion of its population serving their country, and it’s important that families be close to loved ones. Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune

“It’s the same idea, that we respect our veterans,” Klobuchar said. “We show them when they come home, not with tomatoes like what happened after the Vietnam War. We show it to their families by providing them with a beautiful and dignified resting place. That’s what this place is.

Klobuchar said the location of this cemetery in Redwood Falls is important. Rural Minnesota has a higher proportion of its population serving their country, and it’s important that families be close to loved ones.

Redwood Falls was considered a “great place” to serve the veteran population in western Minnesota, according to Larry Herke, commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. Alternatively, the nearest National Veterans Cemeteries are located 160 km away at Fort Snelling and a new cemetery in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Minnesota has now served more than 10,000 veterans at its three state cemeteries located in Little Falls, Preston and Duluth, according to Herke.

State Senator Gary Dahms of R-Redwood Falls called it “a very important day for rural Minnesota.”

In addition to a traditional groundbreaking ceremony with shovels, the dedication included a rifle salute and tap dancing, as well as a Dakota prayer offered by an elder from the Lower Sioux community.

Lydia Conito, who is also a US Navy veteran, sang a dakota prayer and sprinkled four traditional medicines – sage, sweet grass, tobacco grown in the Lower Sioux reserve, and flat cedar – on the grounds of the new cemetery .

Lydia Conito sprinkles four drugs - sage, sweetgrass, tobacco and flat cedar - on the grounds of the new state veterans cemetery during the October 13, 2021 dedication at the site near Redwood Falls.  Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune

Lydia Conito sprinkles four drugs – sage, sweetgrass, tobacco and flat cedar – on the grounds of the state’s new veterans cemetery during the October 13, 2021 groundbreaking ceremony at the site near Redwood Falls. Tom Cherveny / Center-West Grandstand

Conito was a member of the hospital from 1958 to 1960. She was motivated by her family’s tradition of service. His uncle, Norman Dow, received the Purple Heart after giving his life on Normandy Beach during the D-Day invasion.

She reminded those who gathered that the new cemetery is on land ceded to the US government by the Dakota people. It’s also located near the agency’s site where the War of 1862 began when the treaty was broken, she told the audience.

“This is the land you stand on,” Conito said, adding, “I’m so happy. It seems to me, I feel like the circle is coming to an end. That now our veterans will have a safe place to be. And when the day that they meet their Creator, they will all be so helpful and happy. They will meet all of their loved ones right here on this earth.


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