ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota military families are getting their own Memorial at the State Capitol.

The State of Minnesota today dedicated the moving tribute to military families on the grounds of the Capitol building Saturday. It’s the first place in the country that honors the families of active military members and veterans.

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Hundreds of people wandered through the 87 boulders representing Minnesota’s 87 counties at the new memorial Saturday morning. Each rock is inscribed with excerpts of letters from loved ones to soldiers, or soldiers to their loved ones back home.

Ted Lee is the landscape architect and designer of the first-in-the-nation memorial to military families.

“This is about a tribute to families — past, present and future,” Lee said. “When a soldier deploys, it’s more than just him. It’s their entire family, because everyone back here has to think about that and remember and miss that person.”

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Dianna Beardsley — who was at the service — keeps a photo around her neck of her son William, who was killed in Iraq. It was the last picture that was taken of him.

Families who lose a loved one are enshrined on the rocks of the memorial with a Gold Star Table, etched with a display of constellations leading to the North Star.

“It will be a lasting tribute for generations to come,” Beardsley said. “We’ll be able to come down here and remember our loved ones, and because of that, their memories will live on forever.”

The Military Family Memorial — paid for entirely with private funds — is the largest single monument on the Minnesota State Capitol Grounds. The organizers wore the color red at the service for a reason: it stands for “Remembering Everyone Deployed.”

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The new military family memorial links all the other War Memorials at the Capitol: World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.