Northland Lawmakers, Community Celebrate Iron Range Veteran Memorial

By KBJR News 1

August 25, 2012 Updated Aug 25, 2012 at 11:18 PM CDT

Virginia, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- Military veterans on the Iron Range celebrate their completed memorial. Hundreds of Veterans, lawmakers, leaders and community members attended a dedication ceremony for the 27-foot 7-ton sculpture.

The dignitaries in attendance include U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, 8th District Representative Chip Cravaack, Senator Dave Tomassoni and Representative Tom Rukavina.

"It's a memorial representing all of the veterans of the iron range, past and present," Tom Barrigan, an Iron Range Veterans Memorial Chairman, said.

On Saturday, a dedication ceremony took place in the small town of Virginia, Minnesota, recognizing those who have, or still are, serving our country.

"This particular part of the—Minnesota, was just so instrumental in all these wars," Tom Barrigan, an Iron Range Veterans Memorial Chairman, said.

This part of the state is known for producing more than one quarter of the iron ore mined in the United States during world wars one and two and the Persian Gulf War.

Veterans and people from the community gathered to welcome the Iron Range Veterans Memorial to the Northland.

"Well, you know, my roots are up here. My dad grew up here, my dad served during the Korean War, and I think every single range kid or grand kid has a story like that," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said.

Senator Amy Klobuchar recently passed into legislation helping to support homeless veterans.

"Range has been up front and center in our wars and representing our country and fighting for our country and perishing for our country. Whether is was the people that fought on the front line, or the people that mined the ore, or the people that mined the steel, that really won these wars," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said.

There are nearly 20,000 veterans in St. Louis County alone.

"There's a bunch of monuments in Washington D.C., but people don't live there. People live here. And to have a beautiful monument like this is what our veterans deserve," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said.

After twelve years of creating the monument it's finally here after money and timing issues and...

"They never gave up. A lot of people would have said, you know what, now this foundry is not getting it done now we need some extra money and we don't have it. They just never gave up," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said.

Mark Palmerton is an owner of the Crucible Art Foundry located in Oklahoma where the memorial sculpture was created.

"The mold was this big, and we had to take it and make it that big," Mark Palmerton, co-owner of the Crucible Art Foundry, said.

Mark drove all the way from Oklahoma to be here for the ceremony.

"Wow, what service. I don't think we—this country knows what these men give—and women for that matter, too. I don't think we—it's hard to grasp," Mark Palmerton, co-owner of the Crucible Art Foundry, said.

The bronze monument stands more than 14 feet high, its 27 feet long and weighs seven tons.

Gareth Andrews is the artist responsible for making history in this part of the region.

"It's not the biggest sculpture in the world. It's the biggest I've ever done," Gareth Andrews, the memorial sculpture, said.

An eagle acts as the protector of the eight service men and women that stand before it.

Gareth's friends and family, including his father fought for the Unites States of America.

"All of those people mean a great deal to me and they had a lot to do with what I did in the piece," Gareth Andrews, the memorial sculpture, said.

On the back of the memorial monument, Gareth signed two names. His own as well as father's. He says while sculpting, his dad was his constant go–to critic and helped with inspiration.

"That whole flag, that whole eagle, is all of us. Whether we have been in the army, the navy, or whatever," Gareth Andrews, the memorial sculpture, said.

Written and posted by Justin Reis, NNC. jreis@northlandsnewscenter.com

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