City, county tie a Yellow Ribbon
People driving into Rochester will notice something new in the coming months under the sign with the city's population: A sign proclaiming Rochester to be a Yellow Ribbon City.
The designation means residents have developed a sustainable action plan to take care of military families before, during and after deployments, said Melanie Nelson, a spokeswoman for the National Guard.
"They've been working more than a year on their own looking within the community to see what needs are there and how can they support the needs of military families," she said.
The Yellow Ribbon program started in Minnesota in 2008. Rochester is one of 16 cities to earn the designation. Olmsted County also recently earned Yellow Ribbon County status, the third county in the state to do so.
Earning the Yellow Ribbon city and county designations is "really, really neat," said Kenn Roehl, a leader in Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Southeast Minnesota, a grassroots organization that has organized social events for military families.
"This is a community feather in the hat," he said.
Nelson praised the initiative taken by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Southeast Minnesota.
"Rochester just came to us and said, 'Hey, we want to better support our military families — can you help us do that?'" she said.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty might come to Rochester in July to make an official declaration of the city's Yellow Ribbon status, Nelson said.
Yellow Ribbon status also can be given to companies, churches and campuses, Nelson said.
The Yellow Ribbon City signs send a message that the community cares about veterans, she said.
"It's almost like a little hug when you go through the town," she said.