History Matters

Minnesota History Center
   365.21

This afternoon, I went to the Minnesota History Center. Nestled between the Capitol, Xcel Energy Center and the Cathedral of Saint Paul, it’s bizarre that I’d never been here before. You see, I’m completely fascinated by history. How others lived before us. How we came to be. How I came to be.

So I was unexpectedly elated to see traffic congestion (seriously) of people swarming to soak up some history. Today I also became a card-carrying member of the Minnesota Historical Society–definitely a deal. My photo shows the ceiling of the Great Hall, with its eight-pointed star. The points on each star form the letter “M” for Minnesota, also known as the North Star State.

Transporting through time, I learned from the exhibit “1968” about a year of comedy and tragedy, achievements and violence, love and hate, and the hope for a better tomorrow. I became versed in Minnesota’s Greatest Generation, of the Depression, WWII and the post-war boom. I watched a recreation of a WWII combat flight in a C-47 plane. I heard the tale of a soldier who survived Vietnam. So much history, so many stories. Even more intriguing though was overhearing real interpretations of history by the visitors around me. And if you listen carefully, the museum experience becomes that much richer.

I learned how Minnesota’s landscapes, people and communities have changed over time in “Home Place Minnesota.” I stepped into an “Open House,” the recreated home of 470 Hopkins Street from the the Railroad Island neighborhood on St. Paul’s East Side. I read stories of the families who lived there, from the first German immigrants through the Italians, African-Americans, and Hmong who succeeded them.

It all reminded me that people change and places change. But, the memories we hold dear to us shape the stories of our lives and become our history and influence our future.