The meaningful significance of war memorials or memorials to veterans can be enhanced by personalizing the individual veteran. To only know by name those who served along with the impersonal statistics of war does not convey the desired function of a war memorial or memorial to veteran valor, service and sacrifice. There is a need and there should be an opportunity to know and understand the individual veteran personified by the Medal of Honor recipients actions and exploits. A separate free standing memorial in the most prominent of locations telling the stories of Minnesota Medal of Honor recipients would not only relate to and identify with the individual Minnesota veteran but also our youth and the visitors to the memorial in particularly meaningful educational and inspiring ways.
The Medal of Honor Memorial planned for the far south end of the mall in clear and unobstructed view of the capital is historically the same site that Cass Gilbert, architect of the State Capitol Building and grounds, and Civil War veterans, who at the time were represented as prominent and influential legislators, also originally planned for a war memorial. “Gilbert, the Capitol commissioners, and their fellow citizens were well aware of the potential that the Capitol grounds held. As the statehouse walls were rising citizens eyed the grounds as the perfect place for memorials. The Board’s 1901 report noted:
“We have been frequently asked, by members of the Grand Army of the Republic (the Civil War veterans group) and others, whether we could not in some way, respond to their testimonial, upon the new capital grounds, to the memory of Minnesota’s departed heroes . . we have, in consultation with our architect, formulated a plan for a Memorial Approach to the main front entrance . . . which, we believe would fully respond to the requirement indicated . . “
North Star Statehouse, O’Sullivan, Thomas
It seems particularly meaningful and appropriate that the vision and desires of past and present generations have come together in a common desire to honor our veteran heroes and to likewise honor them at the most prominent of sites at the most appropriate location at the main front entrance to the State Capital grounds.