Military Family Tribute

Sacrifice And Honor

In 2009, a group of concerned citizens had a vision for a Tribute honoring the sacrifices of every Minnesota military family – past, present, and future. To this end, a design competition was established for a fitting Tribute on the State Capitol Mall. In November 2010, a jury unanimously selected HGA’s design. The Tribute recognizes the tremendous sacrifices and continual support of families to military personnel through three elements: Family Walkway, Story Stones, and Gold Star Table.

The Family Walkway symbolizes a sweeping gesture of gratitude to all Minnesota’s military families and creates a feeling of home for them and all visitors. Uniting the Tribute, an allée of Maples lines the arced Walkway, providing shade on the benches below. In the fall, the trees turn from gold to orange and then to red, before finally dropping their leaves. During winter, their gray bark creates a contrast of color and texture with the snow. The spring bursts to life with beds of red poppies, daylilies, and roses announcing the entrance to the Tribute as a tie to the memory of our veterans and as a means of reminding us to Remember Everyone Deployed (R.E.D.). The Walkway connects the Tribute’s two other elements: Story Stones and Gold Star Table.

Service members hail from each of the state’s 87 counties. To foster a sense of ownership, each county is represented on the east side of the Walkway by one large stone, possessing the character of their landscape and representing their home. These stones are united in a field of crushed stone as the stars are united by the vastness of the night sky. Communication ranging from the Civil War to the present between service members and their families are engraved onto these Story Stones. Each one offers a window into the lives of our military families and their sacrifices. As the visitor walks through the field of stones, the stories allow them to reflect on the unique emotional journeys of all military families.

At the west side of the Walkway, the Gold Star Table recognizes the supreme sacrifice of Gold Star Families. In their homes, loved ones are reminded daily of their deep loss when they see an empty chair at their dinner table. The table in this Tribute offers transcendence, suggesting that one day these families will be reunited. Made of enduring bronze, its five-pointed foundation resembles the gold star.  Northern hemisphere constellations shine through holes cut in the table’s surface creating a guide to the night sky.  The North Star at its center provides a navigational guide home, and refers to Minnesota’s motto, L’Étoile du Nord, The Star of the North. Visitors are welcome to express gratitude for our Gold Star Families through thought, word or deed.

The Military Family Tribute honors Minnesota’s families who serve in the armed forces – past, present, and future. It recognizes the sacrifices and the support family members provide to our military personnel. Currently, there are no other known Tributes that honor military families. It is the hope that other states will follow Minnesota so that no military family goes unrecognized.


St. Paul, Minnesota

Building Type

Promenade and Gardens


  • 2017 ASLA Minnesota Merit Award

Download Project