Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day 2015

Today I cycled to Sheridan Veterans Memorial beside the Mississippi River in Northeast Minneapolis.

The monument reflects on the cost of war, expresses hope for peace, and is even-handed about the conquerors and vanquished.

The push to build this memorial came from veterans. It was dedicated just two years ago, so it is not a strong part of the public consciousness. Memorials at the State Capitol, Fort Snelling, and Victory Memorial Parkway get more attention.

I stood there alone, Veterans Day 2015. Balloons had been attached to some of the markers indicating the day had not been forgotten.

Ten conflict markers commemorate America's wars, including the one war on Minnesota soil, the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.

Seemingly out of nowhere a man introduced himself as a reporter from the local newspaper, the Star Tribune. He asked me why I was here, and why I had chosen this monument over the better-known memorial sites where there would be ceremonies.

I told him I just wanted to be reflective. Besides, this monument honors working class people, and does not glorify war, unlike many of the war memorials I grew up with.

He asked about my family's connection with war. I told him about my grandfather who died at Passchendaele almost 100 years ago. [A Cold Beer in Passchendaele] My dad, at the age of 4, was told he had become the man of the house.

I talked about my mother and father meeting at a World War II torpedo factory, and my memories of the austerity of post-war 1950's.

Memorial 'speaks to me,' says a grandson

Next day, an article appeared in the Star Tribune.
Read the newspaper article here. You'll find an earlier version here.

Alone again, I completed my circuit of the markers. Each marker has a bronze mask of a veteran, some verbiage about the war, and quotes from veterans. There is no triumphalism, no glorification of the leaders and generals.

The reporter had told me about the veteran whose mask is featured on the World War II marker. He had recently interviewed that now-frail veteran at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital.
At nearby SiP Coffeebar I overheard a man asking the barista if there was anything going on at the memorial. He had bumped into someone who had shown up for a ceremony earlier, but no ceremony transpired.  He couldn't find any Veterans Day events in the Northeaster.

I cycled over to a former World War II Norden Bombsight factory to track down a wartime guard tower. I've tried to find it before, but without success. This week, I searched Google Earth in 3D for the elusive tower. I spotted what looked like a tower, at the edge of a parking lot, next to a railroad embankment.

I had, indeed, found the tower, another memorial to the impact of war.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to remember these tragic events.