Traveling 9/11 memorial visits MSU sharing Minnesota ties

Sunday was the 21st anniversary since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. To commemorate the honor of deceased Minnesotans who were on the planes and in the towers and Pentagon, the Resolute: Minnesota Stories of 9/11 and the War brought their traveling exhibition to Minnesota State University, Mankato. 

The exhibition is a series of oral interviews and memorabilia given by Minnesotans who were in New York, Washington D.C. and those who served on the frontlines of the war following the aftermath of 9/11. The exhibition debuted last year in St. Paul at the Minnesota State Capitol to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the event.

Minnesota Military and Veterans Museum Executive Director Randal Dietrich explained that the exhibition started from not wanting to wait any longer to share the stories of Minnesotans.

“Waiting seemed like a prudent thing to do in understanding that memories fade and people move and we need to gather these stories now and the result of gathering them became more and more clear on how prominent Minnesota’s role has been in this conflict,” said Dietrich.

Apart from the videos visitors could watch, several artifacts were on display. One of the cases held Grand Rapids native Andrew Bundermann’s U of M baseball cap and field fatigues along with his distinguished service cross, the second highest honor a soldier can receive in the army. Bundermann was the inspiration from the 2020 movie, “The Outpost,” where Bundermann defended his outpost against the Taliban in a ration of six to one in the Battle of Kamdesh.

Those who have vivid memories of 9/11 and who served after, sharing their stories with their families can be healing. Curator Doug Thompson said that several people and their families visited while sharing meaningful stories.

“A lady came in that lost a couple of good friends in Iraq that were killed by an IED. I spoke with a young lady who does talk and study groups with veterans and her father is a veteran who was a navy guy that was deployed right after 9/11, so it really affected her family quite a bit,” said Thompson. “This is kind of a cathartic place to kind of see what we have and absorb the experience knowing that they’re not alone.”

For those who lived through the tragic day, citizens can remember exactly where they were and how they felt during that time. Thompson was at work with his coworkers, watching the collisions and collapse of the towers on the television. Thompson recalled his thoughts in the aftermath that followed.

“I went home and lowered the flag on my flagpole to half mast and I went in and hugged my family and my wife and I just sat in front of the TV for the next couple of days. It was a lot of information coming in and it was terrifying,” said Thompson. “Here I am with a young family and worried about them, worried about the country, worried about my friends who were in the military, knowing that they would get deployed. It was kind of a horrific time.”

However, not everyone was old enough to recall the event. Kira Dupont, a junior at MSU, visited the exhibition as she explained that her education on 9/11 growing up was minimal and she wanted to know more about the impact it had on the American people.

“I wish [9/11] was more a prominent part of our curriculum growing up because I think it’s a major event in history we can all learn from. I think we can learn a lot from past events so that we don’t allow things like this to repeat in the future,” said Dupont.

Dietrich noted that the responses from the exhibition have been appreciative for the effort in telling their stories over the last 20 years by bringing a sense of familiarity to Minnesotans.
“As a result of coming to the exhibit, [the events of 9/11 and the war] becomes more local only because the stories were all based here in Minnesota, places that we all know and are more familiar than some of the other more distant faraway places,” said Dietrich. “It brings the story home and that helps people make connections, when they can identify with the storyteller and have a better sense of what that experience was.”

Header Photo: A piece of one of the Twin Towers is a part of the traveling exhibition “Resolute: Minnesota Stories of 9/11 and the War” that visited MSU over the weekend. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)

Write to Emma Johnson at emma.johnson.5@mnsu.edu

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