When my husband and I said goodbye to our son on November 12, 2009 to serve his second combat tour, our thoughts were of the day he would come home and would that experience change him? Instead of welcoming him home with open arms, a flag draped casket is what became our reality. Dave and I are both Veterans but, we view this moment in our lives as the most difficult part of our combined service to this country. Trying to find some sense in our grief, we became entrenched in the veteran community. Through the support and encouragement of our friends and family we started a memorial fund in Curtis’ name to support or local Military, Veterans and their Families.

The CPL Curtis M Swenson Memorial Fund in conjunction with The Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation is pleased to announce the first Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Minnesota. To date, there are 64 dedicated in 48 states and US territories, with 76 in progress. Woody, a WWII Marine Veteran Medal of Honor recipient, envisioned honoring and paying tribute to Gold Star Families “for their sacrifice of one of their loved ones has become a reality.”

Each monument is constant on the front side. Three inner panels are designed by the committee to represent their Homeland, Family and Sacrifice. The fourth is representative of Woody and his patriotism. The life size cut out of a soldier salutes the families for the price they have paid. While sitting in the inner arch is meant to feel as if they are receiving a hug from their loved one. These beautiful monuments not only pay respect to the family’s sacrifice, but offers a place for peace, reflection and fellowship. The Gold Star Community is a group no one wanted to belong. Although small, we come from all social and economic backgrounds. We live in all cities, counties and states. With the song “Hero’s Come from Small Town’s” ~Rocky Lynn, in our minds, we sought a place for our memorial. The Dodge County Board has generously offered space at the Dodge County courthouse in Mantorville, MN. Working together, our dream is becoming a reality. The committee’s projected dedication date will be the Fall of 2022.

Our family has always been grateful for the community Curtis has given us. The people who have walked into our lives because of our tragedy can’t totally replace our loss but, they have helped lighten the load along the long path.

- Kay, Dave, Emily and Katie Swenson Gold Star Parents, Sister and Wife

Donations are being accepted to: CPL Curtis M Swenson Memorial Fund, 4520 58th LN NW, Rochester, MN 55901. Or directly at: MN Gold Star Families Memorial Monument/Mantorville


The monument is at the granite company being etched right now and should be done by the end of this month.

Our dedication is being planned for June 25, 2022 at 1pm in Mantorville MN.