Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - Several hundred veterans and others turned out at the Rochester International Event Center Friday for the city’s official Veterans Day program.

A free breakfast was offered by the Canadian Honker restaurant before the program. Owner Joe Powers and his family have organized and donated the free breakfast since 2006 as a show of gratitude to veterans for their sacrifices.

The Powers family has also donated food and service to feed more than 6,000 Minnesota National Guard troops and have been a part of the Serving Our Troops efforts and the Honor Flight Network.

And now the family has commissioned a film to honor a fallen Rochester Marine, Curtis Swenson.

He enlisted after graduating from Mayo High School in 2007. He married in 2009 and was killed in action the following April in Afghanistan. The short film focuses on Swenson’s family and includes footage of events that were held in Rochester to honor Curtis around the time of his funeral.

A note from the Powers family about the film:

“ First and most importantly, we produced this content to honor Curtis, the Swenson family and all those who serve and have served our country. It’s not meant to be political or sensationalized. It is with deep gratitude that we want to thank Kay & Dave Swenson, Harry Kerr, Wayne Stillman, Lucinda Barth, Pete Peterson, Jamal Omer and Sarah Belden for agreeing to be in this project.”

“Our military and veterans make the ultimate sacrifice each and every day and go into harms way to protect all of our freedom. It is with sincere honor and respect that our company is blessed with the opportunity to give back to our men and women in the armed forces and those that have selflessly served our country,” said Joe Powers. "From the day the United States of America came into existence, brave men and women of our Armed Forces have fought for our freedom. We hold these individuals in the highest regard and as a tribute to them, want to acknowledge our military heroes sacred duty and pride defending our country. The message of freedom and love for our country is beautiful, powerful and should never be forgotten.”

“It’s so important for us to support a message of compassion and unity with a family who has given the ultimate sacrifice. We didn’t know the Swenson’s before Curtis’ death. We were fortunate to get to know them and have been amazed at their strength in addition to the support they give to other military families,” said Nick Powers, General Manager of Canadian Honker Restaurant. “The Swenson’s story is so important to tell and have people see that those who serve are our neighbors and are all over this community.”  

Here are some other items about Curtis.  One is from the Rochester School District, the other from the Military Times.

And, here is a story about another Mayo High School grad who was KIA in 2005. Funerals for both were held at Rochester's Bethel Lutheran Church.

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