INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. — Despite political division at home, men and women of the U.S. Military can unite the country around core American values.
That was the message of elected officials who addressed hundreds of Minnesota veterans, family members and others on Monday, Nov. 11, at the State of Minnesota Veterans Day event.
It was one of dozens of events around the state aimed at honoring the service of the more than 327,000 Minnesotans who serve in the military or have served. And state officeholders, as well as Veterans Affairs representatives, said the state should treat every day like Veterans Day.
Gov. Tim Walz, a retired command sergeant major in the Army National Guard, noted divisions that affect the country at home and abroad and he said veterans understand what it means to unify a common mission. The first-term governor called on veterans to lead in their communities and help bridge some of those divisions.
"We've been through darker times, we've been through times that have challenged us, but the one thing we've never allowed to happen? We've never allowed outside or inside people to divide us from our common American core values," Walz told the audience. "And our veterans signify that. Our veterans embody that."
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, along with U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum, Dean Phillips and Angie Craig, and Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan also spoke at the event. And they encouraged veterans to reach out to them if they need assistance and they said they'd continue working to ensure their access to services at home.
"You can count on all of us up here today regardless or party or years of service or whether they're in the Senate or the House to make sure that you receive the benefits you earned," McCollum said.
Department of Veterans Affairs officials and state representatives also urged veterans and their family members to take advantage of resources available to servicemen and women and their families. And they urged the audience to look out for fellow veterans who might struggle with civilian life when they come home.
"If you know of a vet in need, if you know of a vet that needs help, help them," Inver Grove Heights Mayor George Tourville said. "We need to reach out. We need to help."