Minnesota Military and Veterans Museum looking for local WWII stories for future exhibit on Pearl Harbor

Nine-member crew of the USS Ward (all from Minnesota) who fired the first shot in defense of the United States. (Minnesota Military and Veterans Museum)

Dec. 7, 1941, marks a pivotal tragedy in our nation’s history: Pearl Harbor.

This year marked 82 years since the surprise attack that killed more than 2,000 soldiers and civilians — devastating America.

On the somber anniversary Thursday, the Minnesota Military and Veterans Museum highlighted our state’s veterans for their bravery and heroism through a virtual event.

"Dec. 7 is a chance to really remember the role and sacrifice of the more than 300,000 World War II veterans that, at one point, were in the state of Minnesota," Randal Dietrich, Executive Director of the Minnesota Military and Veterans Museum said.

In addition to highlighting those veterans, the organization called on those who know a veteran who served in World War II to share their story. Eventually, those stories will be featured in a future exhibit at a new museum at Camp Ripley, set to open in 2026.

"This is the chance for Minnesotans to really contribute their family stories to this new museum," Dietrich said.

They are asking anyone who is interested to share their stories on their website.

"We’re coming together, really, to make sure those stories don’t get lost and to look forward to how those stories are presented five, 10, 15, 20 years from now," Dietrich said. 

So far, Dietrich said they have seen an overwhelmingly positive response.

"We've been blessed by, you know, so many Minnesotans stepping forward and sharing stories of their ancestors, their fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers even, who were involved in WWII," Dietrich said.

Dietrich hopes to see even more people contribute, following the organization’s virtual event on Thursday.

"We can’t afford to lose these stories," Dietrich said.