Camp Ripley Breaks Ground on New Military & Veterans Museum
Over 200 Minnesotans attended a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Minnesota Military & Veterans Museum on Sunday afternoon.
Located across the street from Camp Ripley near Little Falls, the new site is expected to ensure easy access by the public.
“[With] 300,000 veterans in this state today, Minnesota is now home to more than 43,000 Post 11 veterans alone,” said retired U.S. Army Four-Star General Joseph Votel. “And you can imagine how many more stories are yet to be told by them. And the other 100 are 250,000 veterans from Vietnam, Korea, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, as well as a number of our World War II veterans. That is why this groundbreaking is so important.”
The original museum has been within Camp Ripley’s walls since 1977. However, as the veteran community continues to grow in Minnesota, it was only a matter of time before the museum followed suit.
“Our current museum has been inside the wall of Camp Ripley for decades,” said Minnesota Military & Veterans Museum Executive Director Randal Dietrich. “We ran out of space to tell veterans stories a long time ago. And so the need to have a bigger space that’s more accessible to the public was really important.”
While the museum’s dedicated to preserving Minnesota’s past military history, it’s equally committed to educating and preparing the state’s future military leaders.
“I’m kind of a believer where history is important, but this is what we’re doing is as much about the future as it is about the past,” said Dietrich. “So to have a place that can ground you and understand where we’ve come from to prepare you for the future is really what we’re all about. So we’re an honor, those veterans and remember their service and sacrifice. But darn it, a whole bunch of this is really about preparing the future leaders and the future service members to be the best possible soldiers and citizens they can be and the best place to gather that information, those perspectives, is a museum like ours.”
Construction for the museum is set to begin in the spring of 2024. Its grand opening scheduled for Memorial Day in 2026.