Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Mantorville dedicated to those who lost a loved one
The memorial monument was unveiled Saturday.
MANTORVILLE, Minn. — Gold Star families across Minnesota now have a memorial monument dedicated to them.
Hundreds gathered in front of the Dodge County Finance Department, and across the street from the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office and Courthouse, on Saturday, June 25, 2022, to dedicate the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.
The memorial monument had been a project two and a half years in the making, and was an effort undertaken by a committee of friends after visiting a similar monument in Reno, Nev.
“Somebody had said, ‘Hey, you got to see this Gold Star memorial in Reno.’ And we went down there and saw it,” Scott Eggert said. “We're all driving back to our cabin. And all of a sudden, we're looking at each other going, ‘We could do that.’ Before you know it, we were all having these thoughts in our head and we just dug in, and here we are.”
The group consists of a Gold Star family, Dave and Kay Swenson and their daughter, Emily Woslager; Scott and Monica Eggert; Col. Rod Peterson, retired; Tim Horvei; and Teresa Czaplewski.
The Swensons’ son, Marine Lance Corporal Curtis Swenson, was killed in action on April 2, 2010, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, during Operation Enduring Freedom.
The monument has a few different features and meanings to it. There are four panels, with a cutout of a soldier saluting separating the third and fourth panels. Four labels are inscribed along the bottom: homeland, family, patriot and sacrifice.
“Family. In a military family, everyone serves,” Kay Swenson said. “We didn't all raise our hand, but we stood quietly behind sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, siblings and spouses. From all generations, all wars and conflicts. We are represented. They needed us, and we needed them. We wanted them home safe. Not one of us wanted to belong to this Gold Star family. Achieving this honor, we had to give up our greatest treasure.”
Then, Swenson began to talk about sacrifice.
“As a parent, I would have rather gone myself,” she said. “Our children willingly placed themselves in danger, knowing the price they could ultimately pay. We worried while they were deployed, and prepared ourselves. We could deal with any physical and mental damage of war. Any thoughts of the ultimate sacrifice were quickly dismissed. It was too thick and painful to think about. I didn't even come close to knowing the anguish.
“Although our hero was treated with honor and respect from the battlefield to their final resting place, it was not the homecoming we expected. Images that touched everyone else only broke my heart further. It's a fine line between happiness for others, and a deep sadness for your loss. In losing my son, I lost part of my past and future. And for a while, time stood still. This monument represents families that now endure an endless enlistment – a place for Gold Star to gather, share and grieve. For others, to pay respect to that sacrifice.”
The back of the memorial, which faces the intersection, reads, “A tribute to Gold Star families and relatives who sacrificed a loved one for our freedom.”
“It really is going to represent all Gold Star families from all wars, so that's pretty remarkable to be in little Mantorville, Minnesota,” Eggert said. “People will come from all over to be able to see this and know that it's for all the families and loved ones.”
Choosing to put the memorial monument in Mantorville was intentional, as was every decision that went into this monument.
“In Minnesota, we're very patriotic, and heroes come from small towns,” Eggert said. “We just thought we're going to find an area where it's going to be the highlight of the city.
“When we thought of this, I went, ‘Okay, this will be a good thing for all families that are like me that don't know how to say thank you.’ Because what a sacrifice.”