National war memorial makes stop at Benton County Fair
BENTON COUNTY, Minn. (KMSP) - A one-of-a-kind photographic war memorial honoring the men and women who've given the ultimate sacrifice is now on display in Minnesota.
The "Remember Our Fallen" tribute towers will eventually be featured in New York and in our nation's capitol. But right now, they’re at the Benton County Fair.
Jessica Holmgren is overcome with grief as she finds the photo of her brother, Ryan Jopek, on the “Remember Our Fallen” war memorial. He died on this day 11 years ago in Iraq at the age of 20.
“It feels so good to see his picture, but yet so heartbreaking… and then to see it with so many others and that it's still happening," Holmgren said.
Exhibit organizers have spent more than a year reaching out to thousands of families across the country whose loved ones have died in war-related incidents since Sept. 11, 2001.
Spokeswoman for the project, Noala Fritz, said they want to make sure America does not forget these brave men and women.
"I feel these soldiers here…I feel like they've come together,” she said. “Jacob is with his other brothers. It's a band of brothers that went through tragedy and a horrific end, and now they have an honorable finality."
For Noala, this project is deeply personal.
Her oldest son Jacob died in Iraq in 2007. She misses him every day, but bringing the awareness of this project to communities across the nation helps her heal.
"We are honoring them and saying, ‘we haven't forgotten you, we will always remember you,’" she said.
The tribute towers will be featured in New York and then eventually unveiled at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
For Jessica Holmgren's family, it's a way for her brother's legacy to live on and to forever remember those who laid down their lives for this country.
"We refuse for him to be forgotten, not only because he served for our freedom, but because of the person he was," she said.