Blaine hosts new Memorial Day ceremony to remember native son

A Blaine family receives a memorial flag during a Memorial Day celebration. 

Minnesotans celebrated Memorial Day across the state Monday, including a group of Blaine veterans hoping to start a new tradition. 

From events at the State Capitol to World War II bomber flyovers, people took time to pay their respects. 

In Blaine, the first annual Memorial Day ceremony was hosted at Veterans Memorial Park. The occasion remembered native son Thomas Valentine. His burial flag flew for the first time since his funeral 13 years ago. 

"I was trying to keep my head up and act like I was paying attention," said Christina Valentine, Thomas' widow. "I was also trying to cover my tears, but that was very powerful for me, because that flag should not represent all that sorrow. That is a beautiful, beautiful thing." 

Valentine joined the Navy right out of Blaine High School in 1988. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan and died during training in 2008 preparing to deploy again. 

Carnations were handed out to families and placed at the particular memorials honoring their loss. It was a chance for Minnesotans to gather and say thanks under blue skies and a waning pandemic. 

Meghan and John Valentine say they’ll never forget the day Thomas was buried at Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Monday, they got the chance to receive their father’s flag a second time. 

"Very special, you know," said Christina Valentine. "You feel after so many years have passed. You tend to think that time has stretched you so far from your loved one and you think people forget and then you’re reminded that they don’t."