Today the Veterans Memorial Place is dedicated in a special ceremony. Over 100 people showed their respect by braving the heat for the 30-minute dedication on our country's birthday.
For Don Stemper July 4th is about a lot more than just fireworks.
Stemper says, "Listen to the national anthem it says the only way you were able to see that flag is by the rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air. That's the firework."
For him it's a day to celebrate the fellow soldiers and family members he lost through war and today Stemper has even more to celebrate. He is one of many veterans celebrating the new Veterans Memorial Place, dedicated today on our country's birthday. Having fought in the Korean Conflict Stemper already has a memorial to visit in Mankato. It's one of 14 in the greater Mankato area... but this newest memorial is extra meaningful,
Stemper says, "The merchant marines during World War II can't point to a monument like I can over at the library and say that's mine they did that for me. This is there's this is for all veterans. And this is why we did it. So all the people who fell through the loop hole so they can say we did this they did this for us."
Now the Memorial is finally finished. The star shaped memorial represents the five branches of military. It's lined with brick pavers recognizing service members from our area. Today the flags are raised high in honor of this special dedication that people were excited to come see despite the sweltering heat.
Marine Vietnam Veteran James Mason says, "We had a lot of people here today, we expected a lot of people here. Even though it is hot more came and it was really great to see all the veterans their families."
Stemper says, "It took a long time but we got it done. Now there's a place to come and reflect on your loved one."
With today being our nations Independence Day it is especially meaningful to honor the military men and women of our country... but this memorial stands as a reminder for everyday.