ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota will be home to the nation’s first memorial to honor recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
A ceremonial groundbreaking was staged on Monday on the grounds of the state capitol.
“Today we break ground in order to pay tribute to the Minnesotans who placed themselves in the thick of the fight,” proclaimed Major General Richard Nash, adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard.
The ground breaking ceremony coincided with the annual convention of living Medal of Honor recipients, being held this year in the Twin Cities.
Seven Medal of Honor recipients attended, including Harvey Barnum Jr. who was awarded the Medal of Honor while serving in Vietnam.
“When I first got decorated is was almost 300 people had the medal, now we’re down to 77 living, so now I’m one of the older guys,” Barnum said.
Forty-two of the surviving Medal of Honor recipients are expected to attend the convention.
Over the decades 72 Medal of Honor recipients have had Minnesota ties – among them, Bill Bianchi of New Ulm, who was killed in the Philippines during WWII after receiving his Medal of Honor.
Four of Bianchi’s nieces and a nephew attended Monday’s groundbreaking.
“Our mother used to say ‘Uncle Bill the Congressional Medal of Honor winner,’ that caveat she would add. It was like she couldn’t say his name without adding that, so that’s how we grew up,” said Carolyn Marti Smith, one of Bianchi’s nieces.
For more information about the memorial, click here.