Museum highlights weekend
LUVERNE -- As the candlelight softly illuminated the faces of those gathered in a semi-circle around the Rock County Veterans Memorial on Sunday, all was still as members of several Army National Guard units read the names of the area's veterans.
The candlelight vigil in memory of Rock County's fallen sons and daughters came after the grand opening of the World War I addition to the Herreid Military Museum in Luverne.
"It's been a county-wide effort," said Terrie Gulden, the president of the Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota committee and chair of the museum committee, during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "We asked all county residents to provide information and memorabilia. ... Our entire museum is a display of people who have their roots in Rock County."
The display, located on the second floor of the museum, shares space with the World War II exhibit, which was also freshened up with new items for the event.
"The museum is fantastic," said Jay Mann of Luverne. "There's so much here that I've got to come back. Each time you come you see something a little different."
The World War I display featured ammunition, swords and other weaponry, service medals, old newspaper clippings and even the thick, olive green uniforms from the United State's 1917-1918 involvement in the war. According to the information posted, combat soldiers were issued a new jacket every 79 days.
"The uniforms, they were all wool," said Avis Stoffel, a visitor from Lismore. "Can you imagine how itchy they must have gotten when it was wet?"
"One of the greatest features we have is the original Red Cross duck postcard," explained Jane Wildung Lanphere, executive director of the Luverne Chamber of Commerce.
During the war, a Jasper woman raised $6,000 for the war effort by renting out her white duck to locals. "It went all through Rock County," Lanphere added.
Other features include the bullet recovered from the foot of Jacob Werner of Ipswitch, Iowa, who was shot in both feet during the Battle of Verdun; he died years later with the other bullet still imbedded in his foot.
Lanphere said another highlight is a piece of an airplane flown by the U.S. Army Air Service during the war. It features a caricature of an American Indian, which was painted on the tail of the wood and canvas plane. The planes were decorated with images from a variety of tribes, in keeping with a tradition started by American pilots flying for the French Air Service before the U.S. entered the war.
The candlelight service included songs and a message form Father Tom Jennings of St. Catherine Church.
"As it is so peaceful around us ... we recall the men and women who serve our country in unpeaceful places," he said.