|In 1992, the Minnesota State Historical Society approached veterans of organizations in Minnesota and asked for memorabilia from veterans of the Vietnam War. Members of the Vietnam Veterans of Southern Minnesota (WSM) answered the call and supplied the Historical Society with items for an exhibit in St. Paul. The initial intent of the exhibit was to have this exhibit be a traveling exhibit and be made available to any county historical society that desired it. Unfortunately, funds were no longer available to support this traveling exhibit. After a run of 8 years, the Minnesota State Historical Society was making plans to dismantle it.
In the Spring of' 1999, Tom McLaughlin, a Vietnam veteran and veterans' activist, approached the Blue Earth County Historical Society and the WSM about moving the exhibit to Mankato for display at the Blue Earth County Historical Societys Heritage Hall. The Blue Earth County Historical Board of Directors endorsed this project and encouraged him to proceed.
With the blessings of the Blue Earth County Historical Society, Tom approached his friends in WSM about the possibility of bringing the exhibit to Mankato. This was no small feat because this is a loosely organized but highly motivated group of veterans who only meet informally twice a year. At their spring, 1999 meeting, they agreed to bring the exhibit to the Blue Earth County Historical Society in Mankato and make the exhibit available to people in Southern Minnesota.
After months of navigating the State bureaucracy, the exhibit was finally released to the Blue Earth Historical Society and WSM in the fall of 1999. In November of 1999, a small group of veterans from WSM convoyed to St. Paul and brought the exhibit back to Mankato. Reconstruction of the exhibit was started by members of WSM in late December of 1999 and was completed in March of 2000.
The exhibit has been slightly modified from the origina1 to give it a loca1 emphasis. WSM and the Blue Earth County Histrica1 Society are hopeful that after its run in Mankato some other county historica1 society will see fit to bring the exhibit to their county.