America’s longest war – the Global War on Terrorism – started with the attacks on American soil on Sept. 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.
Roger Reinert, interim executive director of the DECC, is one of eight Minnesotans selected by Gov. Tim Walz to serve on the taskforce. Reinert is a Lt. Commander in the US Navy
Reserve, and a post 9/11 combat veteran having served for a year in Afghanistan in 2018-2019.
“I’m honored to serve”, said Reinert. “9/11 was an event that personally changed my life, and has for many other veterans and their families. None more so than the families who sent a loved
one overseas to never return.”
Reinert went on to say, “2021 will be the 20 th year in the ongoing
War on Terrorism. It’s a unique opportunity to highlight service and sacrifice, collect the stories of those who have served, and work towards some sort of public memorial.”
The new taskforce will be facilitated by MDVA, 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 Sept. 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 time to preserve these records and reflect on this era is now,” Dietrich said. Personal accounts are being collected via the museum’s website and the public is encouraged to share
their stories. Story gathering will continue for the duration of the taskforce's work.
The new taskforce will hold its first quarterly meeting Sept. 17 and begin to articulate their goals for the 20th anniversary remembrance and beyond.