Thousands Mark Memorial Day at Fort Snelling National Cemetery

Updated: 05/26/2014 5:56 PM
Created: 05/26/2014 3:26 PM
By: Stephen Tellier

Thousands of Minnesotans spent part of their Memorial Day placing flowers, and saying a prayer, at the gravestones of their family's fallen veterans.

There are more than 180,000 service men and women buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Each and every one gave their life for their country. On Monday, thousands came to their final resting place to make sure they are never forgotten.

There are many ways to remember. At Fort Snelling National Cemetery, the ceremony was marked with music. But there were also countless moments of quiet reflection.

"John R. Paulson, PFC, U.S. Army," said Ellie Paulson, as she read the gravestone of her great-grandfather, who fought in World War II.

"I miss him still, and I think I always will. I just like to honor him," Ellie said.

"Two years ago, she marched in the parade with her great-grandpa, and that was really special to him, and then he passed away. And last year, she marched with her great-grandma, and she passed away. So we're going to carry on the tradition every year, to come support our veterans," said Melissa Paulson, Ellie's mother.

Ellie's support came in the form of her great-grandmother's Purple Heart hat.

"It makes me feel like a real purple heart," Ellie said.

"It's important to remember our loved ones and all the sacrifices that they went through," Melissa said.

That applies whether you're too young to really appreciate sacrifice, or old enough to know exactly what it really means.

"If I didn't come, Robby would wonder why," said Kay Nickelson, about her husband, a World War II pilot.

He died three decades ago.

"He was very soldier-like. He wanted to be the best, and he was," Nickelson said.

The same could be said about every name at the cemetery, each engraved in stone, forever deserving of our salute.

"It just makes you remember just how important your family is, and the veterans, and all that they do for us, and how important it is to honor them," Melissa Paulson said.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

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