Dedication June 13 for tribute to Minnesota’s military families

Categories: Around the Diocese

“Well, I’ve got some bad news you might not want to know. I’ve been shot.”

By Bob Zyskowski
For The Visitor

A soldier from Washington County wrote the sentences above in a letter back home in 1968.

They’re just a snippet of his letter, similar to 86 other snippets from military personnel to their families, or from their families to them, that are preserved in stones on the mall in front of the Minnesota State Capitol.

soldierThere’s a stone representing every county in the newest monument on the mall, the Minnesota Military Family Tribute, which will be formally dedicated Saturday, June 13.

Open to the public and free of charge, the 10 a.m. dedication program will be followed by entertainment with country music artist Rockie Lynne and The Steele Family until 2 p.m.

Bill and Teri Popp, members of St. Bartholomew in Wayzata, have led the effort to have the families of military personnel recognized for what they go through while a loved one is in the service.

“The military people all choose to serve,” Teri explained, “but the family is for all intents and purposes drafted.

“This is a small way to recognize the family for the sacrifices they make,” she said. “The tribute is a thank you to the families for their service.”

The tribute has been seven years in the making, when Bill Popp was asked to speak at a welcome-back event for military personnel.

“All the vets thanked him for expressing gratitude to their families,” Teri recalled, and the idea for a permanent recognition of military families was born.

Getting state approval was a two-year process; Minneapolis-based HGA won the bid to design the tribute.

The Popps and a committee of some 50 others — many parishioners of St. Bartholomew as well — raised $1.2 million and five years later, the stones sit just east of the veteran’s building on the State Capitol campus, sharing funny, serious and heartwarming slices of the lives of military families.