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Walking Military Memorial created in Luverne

LUVERNE -- From hosting the red carpet premier of Ken Burns' documentary "The War" to its welcoming Herreid Military Museum and recognition as Minnesota's first Purple Heart City, Luverne has long honored its military veterans.

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Marcene Hassebroek (left) and Diane Sherwood stand with items in the Hass-A-Stitch storefront display as part of a Walking Military Memorial in downtown Luverne. The displays will remain through the summer and into the fall. (Julie Buntjer / The Globe)

LUVERNE - From hosting the red carpet premier of Ken Burns’ documentary “The War” to its welcoming Herreid Military Museum and recognition as Minnesota’s first Purple Heart City, Luverne has long honored its military veterans.

Now, a Walking Military Memorial has been created in downtown Luverne business storefronts to draw attention to the men, women and even canines who have fought for America’s freedoms - from World War I to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The brainchild of Luverne resident Diane Sherwood, who also founded the Remember Rally, the walking memorial features laminated photographs and snippets in information displayed on nearly 50 storefront windows. Some displays also include uniforms, American flags, banners and personal photographs.

“It’s a great way to educate people of all ages and thank our veterans,” said Sherwood. She said she was excited about the response from business owners as she asked about displaying the information and photographs.

“We’re really trying to educate people about what our military personnel go through,” she added. Among the displays is information about the Holocaust, Agent Orange, tunnel rats, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Native American Code Talkers, IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and EFPs (Explosively Formed Penetrators), military canines, Reckless the horse, Rosie the Riveter, the WASPs, military chaplains and many other topics.

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Sherwood did all of the research for the various topics, printing photos from the internet and also getting some pictures from photographer Stacy Pearsall, who visited Luverne a couple of years ago to photograph Rock County veterans. Pearsall’s images were taken in Iraq.

Some of the businesses had specific segments of war they wanted to feature. Ben Vander Kooi, for instance, served in the U.S. Navy, so the display on his law office window features images from that branch of the service, noted Sherwood.

Felicia Hanson’s hair salon, Sincerely Yours, is displaying information on IEDs and EFPs. Her son, Andrew, is a Purple Heart veteran and lost his legs as a result of an EFP while serving in Iraq.

At Hass-A-Stitch, shop owner Marcene Hassebroek is displaying her husband Gary’s uniform and a photo of him during his service in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1969.

One storefront features images of several war memorials in Washington, D.C., along with pictures of Mount Rushmore.

Sherwood said her hope by having the military photos and information on display, people will learn about the challenges, hardships and dedication of America’s troops dating back to the early 20th century.

“We just encourage people to come and walk it,” Sherwood said of the exhibit that spans three blocks of Main Street, from the Rock County Library at the west end to the Take 16 Brewery on the east.

The Walking Military Memorial exhibit was in place by Memorial Day weekend, and Sherwood said she hopes businesses will keep the displays up until this fall.

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In its debut weekend, she heard from numerous business owners that the exhibit was popular, with people stopping to read the information and, in some cases, take pictures of displays.

Visitors are encouraged to also stop by the Herreid Military Museum to see more specific items relating to the military in Rock County.

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This colorful banner is on display in Sterling's Cafe as part of the Walking Military Memorial in downtown Luverne. (Julie Buntjer / The Globe)

Related Topics: VETERANS
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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