Remembering Our Fallen
A surviving family member of a fallen soldier from the Iraqi war urges people to remember soldiers who have been killed in the War on Terror and their stories. Nancy Tobiason-Kramer of Mantorville shared her special request at the opening ceremony of the Remembering Our Fallen display at the Dodge County Fair July 18. The national memorial is a traveling photographic war memorial that honors Americans who have died in the military since 9/11 in 2001.
Nearly 5,000 fallen soldiers are featured. Tobiason-Kramer’s brother, Sgt. First Class John J. Tobiason, who lived in Hayfield, is one of them.
Referring to the photographson the memorial, Tobiason- Kramer said there are so many stories behind each of them. “We need to remember them and their stories,” she said, adding “so many military brothers and sisters came home with physical wounds, but so many more have wounds you can’t see.”
Besides Tobiason, a number of area residents are included on the memorial, including Travis Bruce, Nicholas Dickhut and Curtis Swenson of Rochester and Corey Goodnature of Clarks Grove.
Behind the backdrop of the American flag and the Bell of Honor trailer, a color guard from the Kasson American Legion provided a 21-gun salute and the bell tolled seven times to honor fallen heroes. The Bell of Honor is tolled as a sign of respect and honor for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The bell is tolled at funerals, memorials and other special occasions worthy of the honor.
The meaning of the seven bell tolls are to honor those who have responded, served, protected, defended, sacrificed, suffered and the last toll signifies the loss of life.
A bugler also played Taps to close out the ceremony. Noala Fritz, a Gold Star mom who travels around the country with the memorial, lost her son, Jacob, in Iraq in 2007. She encouraged people to take their time to walk through the towers. “See the true hero found there and say their names,” Fritz said. “It’s not always easy walking among them, but they will not be forgotten. They chose to serve the U.S.”
Fritz also urges people to ask Gold Star families about their fallen hero.
The memorial featuresuniform and the other of something personal chosen by the surviving family. The second picture “humanizes them,” Fritz said. “The two pictures tell us so much more than words. The love of life in photos shares the personalities that make up our military.”
In the case of her son, Fritz said he loved life. “He had a smile followed by a bear hug that everyone got and no one forgets,” she said. Most visitors agreed that what makes the memorial so meaningful are the personal photos of these modern day heroes.