“This is the best place to be on Veterans’ Day,” stated Senator John McCain, R-Ariz, as he arrived in Minneapolis for the Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Dinner on November 10, 2005.
That evening, MMAF hosted nearly 400 guests from Minnesota’s business and political community for a fundraising dinner and tribute to the men and women of Minnesota who have served in the military since September 11, 2001.
Headlining the event was Senator McCain, and present were many of his political colleagues and MMAF supporters, such as former Vice President Walter Mondale, Senators Norm Coleman and Mark Dayton, former Governors Wendell Anderson and Arne Carlson, and former Senator Rudy Boschwitz. WCCO-TV Chief Meteorologist, Paul Douglas, served as Master of Ceremonies. The program also included a video message from Governor Pawlenty and video presentation of Minnesota soldiers.
Preceding Senator McCain’s keynote speech was Merrilee Carlson, mother of Army Sgt. Michael Carlson who was killed in Iraq on January 24, 2005. Also speaking was PFC. Lucas Rath, who was injured in Iraq on July 20, 2004 and again on September 4, 2004. Merrillee Carlson thanked everyone for their love and support. “You cannot comprehend what it means to the military families to know how much you care.”
Senator John McCain, a POW in Vietnam for 5 years, thanked Minnesotans for their service. When asked about his opinion of MMAF, he replied, “It is really a remarkable testimony to the love and affection that the people of Minnesota have for the men and women who serve.”
The MMAF Appreciation Dinner was an emotional and inspirational evening, and raised over $800,000 for Minnesota soldiers.