America’s longest war – the Global War on Terrorism – started with the attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001.
In anticipation of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs (MDVA) has formed a taskforce to remember and record the Minnesota experience since that fateful day.
MDVA Commissioner Larry Herke underscored the urgency of this undertaking. “Memories fade with time. Veterans and their families will benefit from this opportunity to share their stories, some dating back nearly two decades, with future generations,” Herke said.
Remembering and honoring the Minnesotan lives lost and impacted by the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) will be an important role of the new taskforce.
Some Minnesotans found themselves on the frontline in 2001. The 20-year GWOT has been increasingly fought by the citizen-soldiers of the Reserves and National Guard. Thousands of service members from Minnesota have been deployed overseas, placing tremendous strain on their families. While whole units have often experienced deployment ceremonies and homecomings, the service of individuals has been unique to the post-9/11 experience. Drawn from active duty, National Guard and military Reserves, the experience of these sailors, soldiers, airmen, and marines has been more solitary.
Here at home, many Minnesota companies and communities sought to support our troops beyond yellow ribbons. Patriotism has been amplified through events and activities honoring both troops and veterans.
The new taskforce will be facilitated by MDVA and chaired by Commissioner Herke and will include one member each from the Minnesota Senate and Minnesota House of Representatives, two MDVA staff, a member from the Minnesota Military Museum, and up to eight citizen members, selected by the appointing authority, Commissioner Herke. The public members were selected for their interest in conducting public history programs and their personal experience with the events of September 11, 2001 or the resulting deployments of military service. The taskforce members will serve two-year appointments.
Central to their work will be advising the Minnesota Military Museum on their sweeping, statewide initiative to gather Minnesota stories – from service members and civilians – about America’s longest war. Museum Director and taskforce member Randal Dietrich said that the museum will host monthly online discussions to engage a broad, statewide audience.
The new taskforce will hold its first quarterly meeting September 17 and begin to articulate their goals for the 20th anniversary remembrance and beyond.