Public Launch of MMAF at the State Capitol
On August 3, 2005 in the rotunda of our State Capitol, the founders of MMAF — Eugene Sit, General Dennis Schulstad, Skip Krawczyk, and Michael Gorman – introduced this unprecedented fundraising initiative. “The one thing all Minnesotans can agree on is that the men and women who are serving in the military abroad are doing distinguished work and are worthy of our respect and gratitude,” said Michael Gorman. The press conference was covered by every major media outlet in the Twin Cities area and resulted in hundreds of original and wire stories nationwide and even international coverage.
Co-Chair and former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson remarked, “Today’s effort is one that pushes aside the politics of the war, and focuses on the humanness of war. The ultimate greatness of this state is its capacity to rally and to speak as one, and today, we speak as one.”
Marcia Herrgott, mother of PFC Edward J. “Jim” Herrgott, 20, also spoke on behalf of MMAF. PFC Herrgott was the first Minnesotan killed in Iraq. Introducing Mrs. Herrgott was retired four-star General John W. Vessey, who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Ronald Reagan. General Vessey stated this is “not about compensation but all about appreciation,” and “was truly proud to meet and introduce Marcia Herrgott.” In front of the crowd in the rotunda, Mrs. Herrgott said, “Jim would know this would be a hard thing for me to do.” She added, “He’d be proud of Minnesota.”
MMAF at the Minnesota State Fair
Thousands of Minnesotans visited the MMAF display at the State Fair. Visitors wrote thank you messages to our troops on over 40 eight-foot long banners. These banners were later forwarded to CPT Mark Lappegaard, Public Affairs Officer in Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Captain Lappegaard reported that he was with our 2,600 Minnesota troops preparing to deploy to Iraq and that our banners were loved and displayed throughout each company level. “Seeing handwritten messages, by our friends and neighbors while at the Great Minnesota Get Together, means a lot to us,” wrote Captain Lappegaard. “Thank you and your organization for taking the time and effort to put together such a personal message. I only wish the soldiers from the other states that are with us, had a group that cared as much as you, and your fellow Minnesota companies.”
MMAF Appreciation Walk
Hundreds of Minnesotans from across the state participated in the inaugural Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Walk on September 10, 2005. This 5K fundraising walk started in Loring Park, under a 30-foot American flag suspended by two trucks from the Minneapolis Fire Department, and continued through the streets of downtown Minneapolis. Approximately 750 people participated in the event, which was covered by all local news media, and raised over $40,000 for MMAF.
More importantly, the event provided Minnesotans the opportunity to honor our troops. For example, many walkers walked in honor of a soldier currently serving our country. A sign taped to a stroller read, “I am walking in honor of Daddy.” Deb Repya wore a t-shirt that said “Who’s Your Baghdaddy?” She walked in honor of her husband, Joe Repya, who retired from Army active duty in 1998 but reactivated a year ago to serve our country in Iraq. David Day, the father of one of Minnesota’s fallen heroes, Army Staff Sgt. David Day, participated in the walk with his family. After the walk, Mr. Day wrote MMAF, “I was very proud of the way Minnesotans turned out for the event.”