After being passed down through generations, a shiny bronze medallion attached to a rainbow-colored ribbon is now being melted into a bell honoring veterans. The World War I Victory Medal and other military coins, awards and dog tags were donated by veterans and family members across Minnesota for the Spirit of Minnesota Tribute Bell being cast this week at The Verdin Company in Cincinnati.
Kevin Olson explains the Victory Medal was earned by his wife's great uncle, Christopher Domm, who served in the Army in World War I, earning a Purple Heart after being gassed in France.
The 255-pound bronze bell will include the inscription, "Honoring the Past, Saluting the Present, Inspiring the Future."
"It's a way to recognize veterans who have served and those who are still serving today," says Jeff Chavannes with Wells Fargo Military Community Programs. "Also, because it is an educational tool, to inspire future generations to sign that dotted line and serve their country."
The bell will criss-cross the state, making appearances at all kinds of events. "From small little flea markets to local high school football games to major events ... like the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins games," Chavannes says.
Cincinnati-based Verdin cast a similar bell, the Spirit of Iowa Tribute Bell, in 2017 at the Iowa State Fair.
"Anything we do that is military related is always incredible to do," says Tim Verdin, vice president of manufacturing and a sixth generation Verdin family member. "When you think about ... we can live in a society and can do what we do because of our veterans, and to raise awareness and get everybody involved in that is something that's very near and dear to our hearts. We actually have a lot of veterans that work for us. We do a lot of military recruiting from returning service members."
A bell dedication ceremony is planned for mid-December in Minneapolis. The finished bell is scheduled to begin its journey north on Dec. 4, escorted to the Indiana state line by Ohio Patriot Guard Riders.