ROCHESTER, Minn. - As America's longest war comes to a close, community members in Rochester gathered to commemorate the heroism of the 13 service members who lost their lives last week in Kabul.
Rochester's Bell of Honor tolled seven times Tuesday evening, and long-held tradition signifying the stages of a veteran's life once passed. Organizer Jan Throndson says the ceremony wasn't about politics or finger-pointing - it was about solidarity.
"It's not about your race, color, creed," Throndson said. "We are all Americans first, and that's what we have to get back to in this country. That's what this country was founded and built on - that we're Americans, and we remember our fallen heroes because those 12 servicemen's families' lives are changed forever."
Elected leaders on both sides of the aisle attended the ceremony, including State Senator Carla Nelson, Rochester Mayor Kim Norton, and Congressman Jim Hagedorn.
"Lots of opinions about the Afghan War, how it started, how it was prosecuted, how it ended, and everything in between. But I don't think there's much disagreement that these 13 soldiers were peacemakers. Indeed, in their final heroic acts, they were trying to help American citizens return to freedom, return to our home," said Representative Hagedorn.
State Senator Carla Nelson told KIMT, "It could never be more important that we stand with those who stand to protect our freedoms, and we just offer prayers and support for the family members, and for all of our military personnel."
Both Congressman Hagedorn and President Biden acknowledged the weight military members past and present can experience when faced with such immense tragedy. Rep. Hagedorn's message to all of our veterans - "we love you, we admire you, we cherish you, and we are there for you."