Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial
and general Vietnam information

The Memorial
Design Goals

The Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial was designed to evoke a reflective mood rather than make a political statement. It was designed to express honor and remembrance, while acknowledging valor and service, and affirming the need to grieve as well as to experience an earlier time of innocence before the war. It was designed also to remind us that the price of war is high: young men and women die, and others have their lives forever altered.

"Lakefront DMZ," created by artists and architects Nina Ackerberg, Stanton Sears, Jake Castillo and Rich Laffin of the Twin Cities, won the national design competition because it best met those goals. Every element of the Memorial, from the trees and shrubs to the selection of the stone, is imbued with layers of meaning for Minnesotans.

We hope your visits to the Memorial do not end today. We hope you come again on winter evenings after heavy storms, when wet snow clings to the names on the wall and the only footprints on the plaza are your own. We hope you come in the heat of August when oppressive humidity gives you some sense of what it must have felt like in the jungles of Indochina. And we hope that every time you come you gain a new understanding, not just of the Vietnam War, but of the giving and taking of human life.

Reprinted from the Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedication program.

History of the
Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial

When the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built in Washington, D.C., it occurred to some people here that Minnesota should have a memorial for its own Vietnam vets. One of those people was Teresa Vetter.

A high school student during the final years of the war, Teresa was scarcely old enough to comprehend the full meaning of the reports she heard on the news: the live footage of battles in rice paddies and jungles, the protests on college campuses across the country. But when she heard that a friend's brother had been killed in Vietnam, she understood that this faraway war could affect the lives of people she actually knew.

After the national memorial was dedicated and began to heal the entire nation, Teresa realized that most Minnesotans would not be able to visit "The Wall." She came to feel more and more deeply that Minnesota should have its own memorial.

In September, 1987, she began contacting others about her idea, including Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 62 in the Twin Cities. There she met Gary Lindsay and, later on, Tom Asp, who helped turn her idea into a dream. Soon a small but determined group formed and began to establish goals, gather more volunteers, and make plans to dedicate a memorial similar to the one in Washington, D.C., by 1988. The estimated cost was $200,000.

Dreams die hard, but this one almost did as corporations and key organizations denied their support. Many wanted no part of this "controversial issue." To keep the dream alive, the struggling MVVM took its fund raising plea directly to the people of Minnesota, an effort that has lasted right up to this dedication. Dozens of volunteers spent countless hours sending out flyers, calling potential donors, selling T-shirts and asking for donations at county fairs, shopping malls, dances, the State Fair, anywhere they could think of.

The first big breakthrough came in 1989, one year after they had originally hoped to dedicate the Memorial. Doug Carl son, state representative from Sandstone and brother of a Vietnam veteran, introduced a bill in the legislature to authorize state support. Within ten days the legislature appropriated $300,000 and set aside a 2.4-acre site on the Capitol grounds.

In early 1990, deciding that a Minnesota memorial should be unique to Minnesota, the MVVM and the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board held a national design competition. Rich Laffin, Nina Ackerberg, Stanton Sears and Jake Castillo of the Twin Cities won the competition with their design, "Lakefront DMZ." No longer a vague dream, the Memorial suddenly had a life of its own. It was all ready to lay out, pour, chisel and plant. It was almost real.

Almost. Though it had won much support, the Memorial was a far larger project now than anyone had imagined. Costs seemed to rise every day - by 1991, they had reached $1.2 million - while fund-raising slowed to a crawl. To complicate matters, nearly four years of total devotion to the project had left many volunteers exhausted. And $73,000 was still needed just to begin construction.

But then the second breakthrough came. Sally Adams, a grandmother from Delano and mother of a shattered vet, climbed 25 feet onto a billboard in Forest Lake and vowed to stay there until the construction funds were raised. For three weeks money flowed in until Bill Popp of LDB International wrote a check for the last $50,000 . . . and Sally could come down.

In February of 1992, James Steele Construction Company of St. Paul was awarded the contract to build the Memorial. To keep the bid low, supervisors and tradesmen volunteered to work nights and weekends on their own time and suppliers provided discounted materials and services. They broke ground in April and worked all summer to create what you see here today: a dream made real.

Reprinted from the Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedication program.

The Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on September 26, 1992.

To review "names on the wall" on the MVVM click here (120k file).


The MVVM is located just south of the State Capitol in St. Paul, behind the Veterans Administration building (which is on the North side of interstate # 94). The Veterans Administration building has a parking lot a short distance from the MVVM.

Graphic Overview
of the Memorial

To see a drawing of the overall layout of the Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial, click here

Reprinted from the Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedication program.

Pictures of
the Memorial

the memorial
"home coming....."
the memorial
"the memorial"
coming home....
"coming home...."
the memorial
"the memorial"
the memorial
"the wall"
the memorial
"the wall"
the memorial
"the wall"
the memorial
"so young, so many...."
the memorial
"view of the memorial"

Contact MVVM (Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial Organization)

6738 Jocelyn Rd. N.
Stillwater, MN 55082
(651) 777-0686


Contact the Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial (MVVM) organization: info@mvvm.org
Web page questions/comments: techsupport@mvvm.org

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