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9-ton veterans monument set in place in Virginia, Minn.

VIRGINIA, Minn. -- Tom Berringer leaned on a guard rail watching the 9 tons of bronze suspended in the air in front of him. His wife, Lori, stood next to him, the couple temporarily apart from a crowd of about 200 people Thursday morning in Virginia's Center City Park.

Fourteen years after a group of Iron Range veterans first conceived the idea, a monument honoring U.S. veterans of all services, in all 20th century wars, was almost in place.

"Right now, I'm full of butterflies," Berringer had said a few minutes earlier, as workers from Lakehead Constructors painstakingly rigged a harness around the 15-foot-by-27-foot monument, titled "Shoulder to Shoulder: Even the Fallen Stand Tall."

Berringer, of Mountain Iron, Minn., was chairman of the committee that raised $920,000 for the monument, which was designed by Gareth Andrews of Zim, Minn.

The monument depicts members of the U.S. armed forces, male and female, of various ethnic groups, gathered around a fallen comrade under the protection of an eagle whose feathers merge into the fabric of a U.S. flag.