Education: Minnesota-style

A couple of years ago, I splurged and bought a year-long pass to the great state parks of Minnesota. I had visions of visiting every one of them — if not throughout the state, at least those right here in southwest Minnesota.

Well, the year went by and I didn’t even drive toward the entrance of such parks as Blue Mounds, Kilen Woods, Split Rock Creek, Camden and LakeShetek. The beautiful state park sticker that adorned a small corner on the windshield of my car was purchased at Tettegouche State Parkand gave Mom and me a free pass to Split Rock Lighthouse during that four-day journey to the North Shore a year and a half ago. It also meant free parking and travel through Itasca State Park when I was there for a leadership conference, but that was it.

I never considered the expense a waste of money — I figure supporting our state parks is always a good idea. Still, I don’t know that I’ll invest in another year-long state park sticker this year.

Instead, I decided to put down some dough for a membership to the Minnesota Historical Society.

In early December, Mom and I stopped at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul to see the Greatest Generation exhibit. After two years working with the Honor Flight project, I felt I had a good grasp of the events of the 1940s. The exhibit — filled with memorabilia from World War II — was awesome.

We didn’t have time that day to visit all of the exhibits, which is why I invested in the membership.

Last Thursday, after wrapping up another leadership session just down the street from the Minnesota History Center, I decided to stop in and see the 1968 exhibit before it closes Feb. 20.

I must admit, I was a little less knowledgeable about the “year of turmoil.” I could use the excuse that I wasn’t born yet, but then I wasn’t alive during World War II either. I’ve just had the good fortune of interviewing many people who lived through that era.

The 1968 exhibit at theMinnesota History Center features displays about the Vietnam War, and includes a Huey that was rebuilt to serve as the screen for video clips.Worthington native Tim O’Brien is one of the Vietnam veterans who shares his story of the war. (I’m currently reading Tim’s book, “The Things They Carried”).

I also couldn’t help but notice all the 1960s-era furniture in the exhibit — it looked an awful lot like some of the things we had in our house — like the long console stereo system (aka record player), the pea-green colored upholstery and even the decorative clock on the wall.

The exhibit tells the stories of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, both assassinated in the spring of 1968, and the campaign of Hubert H. Humphrey.

It’s an incredible exhibit, but only showing for a limited time. If you’re planning a trip to St. Paul in the next couple of weeks, I would encourage you stop in for a visit. Another option is to take a virtual tour at www.minnesotahistorycenter.org.

2 thoughts on “Education: Minnesota-style

  1. Please make sure to visit the Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River! It’s included in your MNHS membership. Growing up on a farm and being a farm reporter, you would greatly appreciate experiencing how Oliver Kelley influenced farming not only in Minnesota, but across the United States as well. We still farm as if it were 1850-1876. This season at the farm is already off to an interesting start as a bonding bill will be going before the Legislature to try to secure funding for a revitalization. The “modern” part of the site is grossly inadequate to meet the needs of our thousands of visitors (including school kids on field trips). Picture 250 1st graders after an hour-long bus trip and only 4 bathroom stalls! Plowing and planting will begin in no time and animal babies will start to arrive. Visitors get to help with it all and come back throughout the summer to see how the hard work pays off. Please come for a visit!

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