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U to dedicate Veterans Tribute

September 9, 2009


VetsTribute - SmallThe Veterans Tribute at TCF Bank Stadium.

The Veterans Tribute, located on the southwest corner of the new stadium, includes a bench and a lighted inscription similar to the message that was on the old Memorial Stadium.

Photo: Patrick O'Leary

Event will include a flyover and the historic first raising of the American flag over stadium

The University of Minnesota will host a dedication ceremony for the Veterans Tribute at TCF Bank Stadium on Friday, September 11, at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The dedication program will feature a flyover from three WWI "replica" airplanes and performances from the Metropolitan Boys Choir, the University of Minnesota Marching Band, and Dorothy Benham, Miss America 1977. Military leaders including General John W. Vessey, the former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be in attendance, and there will be greetings on the giant video board from Minnesota troops stationed in Iraq. The program will also include the historic first raising of the American flag over the stadium.
  
The Veterans Tribute at TCF Bank Stadium honors all Minnesota veterans of past, present and future conflicts. It is located on the southwest corner of the stadium, between the main scoreboard and Gate E. The tribute incorporates a bench and a lighted inscription similar to the message that was on Memorial Stadium.

From the inside of the stadium, the tribute is conceived as a stage where, as part of the game-day tradition, a color guard can raise the flag of the stadium. The tribute stage will be used for many military ceremonies throughout the year.

Retired Air Force Brigadier General Dennis Schulstad, a former national president of the U of M Alumni Association, co-chaired the Veteran Tribute Committee. "The original Memorial Stadium was built in honor of WWI Veterans, and it is important to remember and honor the sacrifices made by all veterans," he said. "They are the reason we can enjoy Saturday football games at the University of Minnesota."

Schulstad notes that the tribute stage will be used for a variety of military ceremonies throughout the year, including ROTC commissioning ceremonies, holidays like Memorial Day, and other special events. "It's something that's not just for football; it will be used for military events all year," he says.

The Veterans Tribute was built at a cost of $450,000, and more than a dozen donors contributed $580,000 for the project. The extra dollars will go toward maintenance costs, flags, and potential upgrades.

The curved wall of the tribute, designed by Architectural Alliance, is 18 feet tall and 72 feet in length. Etched in its surface are a number of short phrases: "Minnesota Veterans" and "Thank You for Our Freedom" facing the interior of the stadium and "Duty Honor Country" on the exterior. The lighted inscription reads "This veterans tribute was erected by the members and friends of the University to honor the men and women of Minnesota who served their country."

Says Schulstad of the tribute: "It's something that I think veterans from the past and future will look at with pride."

The inaugural football game at TCF Bank Stadium will take place on Saturday, September 12, when the Gophers (1-0) host the Air Force Falcons (1-0). The kickoff is at 6 p.m.

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