MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s largest Memorial Day observance is at Fort Snelling on Monday.

The national cemetery draws thousands for its yearly service, and a lot of work goes into getting Fort Snelling ready. Grounds crews have spent weeks preparing to help families honor fallen war heroes.

“We kind of have a route,” Bette Larson, from Eden Prairie, said.

Bette and her daughter, Susan, put flowers on five family members’ graves every Memorial Day weekend. Bette’s husband, a World War II veteran, is always last.

“It’s really nice to come out here with mom and do it together,” Susan said.

To keep the cemetery in prime condition, crews mow and trim the 436 acres of land, and straighten stones. They also construct a “Medal of Honor Memorial Circle” to highlight Medal of Honor recipients buried at the cemetery.

“There are eight,” Fort Snelling National Cemetery director John Knapp said. “Plaques that show their gallantry and service where they received the Medal of Honor.”

Crews spent all day Wednesday lifting 600 flags to mark Monday’s parade route and to honor what the holiday is all about.

“Sometimes we get asked ‘where do those flags come from’ and they are from the caskets of some of the people who are interred here,” Knapp said.

The cemetery is cared for year round, but additional preparations for Memorial Day start right after the last frost of winter. For loved ones like Bette, the special care touches her family on Memorial Day, and every day.

“I think it’s the most gorgeous cemetery there is,” she said.

Kate Raddatz


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