New monument honoring Minnesota veterans listed as POW, MIA to be unveiled Saturday

New monument honoring Minnesota veterans listed as POW, MIA to be unveiled Saturday

New monument honoring Minnesota veterans listed as POW, MIA to be unveiled Saturday

A new monument honoring Minnesota veterans listed as prisoners of war or ‘missing in action’ will be unveiled Saturday in Blaine.

It will be the tenth monument installed at Veterans Memorial Park, which has been growing outside city hall since 2018.

The new monument features a 450-pound bronze statue of a POW in front of a 20-foot wall that is etched with more than 1,400 names of every Minnesotan listed as POW or MIA since World War II.

The wall is made of the same black granite as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

“It’s probably been about two years in the making,” said Veterans Memorial Park President Steve Guider. “The statue is incredible. It’s actually a POW that’s kneeling down on the ground shackled. We wanted to show the fight and resilience of the American soldier.”

Nearby, an almost six-foot-tall ‘Freedom Rock’ will also be unveiled.

It is part of a multi-state Freedom Rock Tour spearheaded by artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen.

Guider believes the new additions to Veterans Memorial Park of Blaine will be powerful tributes to those who have served and sacrificed.

“As far as the impact, it’s been unbelievable,” Guider said. “I have seen so many tears at this park from veterans that are so appreciative, just feeling like they’re being remembered for what they have done.”

Sgt. Duane Broten, a 90-year-old veteran of the Korean War, will be one of two veterans unveiling the new monuments Saturday.

“It’s a lot more to it than people realize,” Broten said. “A veteran goes through a lot of stuff, especially in combat.”

Back in 1953, Broten was held captive for almost a week on Pork Chop Hill, along the Korean peninsula.

“The North Koreans came charging up the hill to put terror in us,” Broten said through tears. “And it did.”

Broten said he was wounded in the battle almost immediately and lost so much blood he could no longer stand.

“They took me prisoner that night and I laid in that trench for the next six days. You got somebody holding a rifle a foot away from your head,” Broten recalled, “It’s good to let people know what it’s like to have to go through that.”

Broten said he made a daring escape one morning when he realized the enemy soldiers had briefly left.

He ended up spending more than six months in the hospital, with shrapnel wounds all over his body.

Broten still lives with the lingering impacts of those injuries, including loss of sight in his right eye.

He hopes people will listen to stories like his and reflect on the sacrifice of so many servicemembers while visiting the new monuments in Blaine.

“It’s really something,” Broten said. “I think everybody that knows about it ought to spend the time here, go through it, and recognize how lucky they are.”

The unveiling ceremony for the new monument will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday. It is open to the public.