By Kirsten Mitchell

CANNON FALLS, Minn. (WCCO) – A piece of history landed near Cannon Falls on Saturday afternoon. The Huey helicopter, used during the Vietnam War, was part of a groundbreaking ceremony for a new large-scale American Veterans Memorial Park.

“This property is dedicated to the American people. Especially the men and women in uniform,” the founder and purchaser or the land, Toufong Lor, said.

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(credit: CBS)

Lor said when he was discharged from the military and began civilian life, he wanted to pay it back. His family immigrated to Minneapolis in the 1980s. His father’s heroism and sacrifices during the Vietnam War inspired him to create the park in honor of all veterans.

“I think he would be very proud as a father, would be [proud] for a son doing something that is wonderful, and not just for one person, one group, but for all Americans,” Lor said.

The 100-acre project will be done in phases with the vision to become a destination attraction for people across the country.

The plans include a history museum, banquet hall, athletic fields, trails and about a dozen monuments from the war of 1812 to the present. Organizers hope the space is a place to honor, reflect, and learn about the contributions of Hmong people in American history.

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“They’ve assimilated into the American way of life just wonderful, and it’s amazing they’ve done so and done it with pride,” Veteran and member of the United States Submarine Veterans organization said.

(credit: CBS)

Pride and patriotism, Lor hopes will be shared with those who visit.

“I think this is how America should be united, and we should come together, put our ideas together and make this veterans memorial park beautiful,” Lor said.

He and his wife own a towing company in Vadnais Heights but said they’ve been eyeing the plot of land near Cannon Falls for years for this project.

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Construction’s slated to begin late this summer.

Kirsten Mitchell