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The couple erected a memorial to the fallen soldiers in the apple orchard of Minnesota

BECKER, Minnesota (VTVK) – A touching memorial at an apple farm in Becker, Minnesota, in memory of fallen soldiers and their loved ones.

Photojournalist David Porter shows us the couple who created it.

“Every time we come here, we walk around them all, straightening them up, as a sign of respect, you know, dress right, dress like a military man. So they still have to be dressed right, you know, even though they served their country and died doing it.”

“We do this twice a year. Look at this, the red stripes have turned orange, so it needs to be replaced,” said Linda Hoffman.

“Tags always need to be changed. Flags always need to be changed. And I retired as a senior warrant officer. I don’t regret anything, I don’t regret anything at all. It was a great career,” said Mark Hoffman.

“This is my brother Lee’s apple orchard, a tree farm, and he said, ok, keep putting up the memorial. It’s a beautiful place, it’s calm here,” Linda said.

“You know when they say, ‘Rest in peace,’” Mark said.

“Our son was in Afghanistan and then Mark ended up in Iraq. They both lost their comrades there,” Linda said.

“It’s Richard Ferguson right here…was supposed to retire and said I wanted to quit again and never came back. I served with him for 15 years. He was my friend. Yeah. You can see how many squares it takes up. This is 3-4 tags per square. We have eight states, we need to replace. Now we process the tags in Vermont and then bring them here… Stainless steel. One person came out to talk to us about it, and the wind was blowing that day, and the first thing he said when he got out of the car was “holy cow, listen to their chime,” Mark said. “So it’s quite an emotional reaction… the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Even as many times as I’ve heard it, all the names on the tags are listed. Last name, first name in alphabetical order. So, for each name, there is a line within a line. We are working on a book that will document where all these tags are on the fence. So when a person goes out to see the memorial, and if he is looking for a friend or a loved one, he can turn to the book and it is very easy to find him.”

Stabilize him in place, Linda said.

“There are many memorials there. It’s my personal… the way you say… thank you for your sacrifice. Thanks to those families who have lost loved ones,” Mark said.

“This is not just a soldier, this is the whole family,” Linda said.

“The sacrifice for the sake of the family is huge. It really is. Everyone is a family. Each of them is American. It’s a lot of work. But it normal. It’s a living memorial… we’ll be here until we’re gone. It’s worth the effort. Absolutely,” Mark said.

Mark served in the United States in the Special Forces for 27 years and served three times in Iraq.

His son also served seven times in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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