Historical perspective played big role in veterans memorial

By Wayne Stillman

I have answered below, in order, freelance journalist Mark Powell’s comments about our veterans memorial in Rochester made in a recent op-ed column in the Star Tribune newspaper.

Ours is a veterans memorial, not a war memorial

The stories on the wall depict history primarily from the United States and, indeed, Minnesota’s view. The research included information from, but not limited to, Wikipedia and Encarta encyclopedia, and historians John Keegan and Stephen Ambrose.

I understand that most Confederate history was lost or destroyed, so some information is estimated or opinion. We did not research Russian/USSR/Soviet Union, Germany, and Japan etc. We edited stories to shorten them and put as many stories as possible on the walls. Countless hours were spent deciding which stories and how they would appear.


The memorial honors those who died as a result of injuries sustained in the service and dedicated to all veterans.

There are five known copies of the Gettysburg Address. The Nicolay draft and the Hay drafts are on display at the Library of Congress. Historians debate which copy Lincoln actually used. We think the evidence shows it was the Nicolay copy.

We did not find Confederate information, and I would like to know Powell’s source.

The official end of World War I was the signing of the treaty on June 28, 1919, even though MSNBC, and others have called the end Nov. 11. We state Nov. 11 is Armistice Day, now known as Veterans Day. The fighting ended at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, French time.

President Truman officially declared the end to hostilities of WW II on the last day of 1946.

Operation Husky, July 9 to Aug. 17. 1943, involved 160,000 personnel, 14,000 vehicles, and 600 tanks. D-Day involved more than 1 million troops, 3 million combat and support personnel and more than 20,000 vehicles. There were 12,000 aircraft for support.

We wrote on Operation Overlord, which included the assault phase called Operation Neptune, which was June 6 to June 30. Operation Overlord continued until reaching the river Seine on August 19, 1944. D-Day was the biggest amphibious force (from sea to land) in military history, more than 156,000 troops landed on June 6 and 380,000 by July 23.

Kursk was the "largest clash of armor" in WW II, with 6,300 tanks. That is Russia/USSR and German history. The battle lasted for one day, and the Battle of the Bulge lasted Dec. 16 to Jan. 25.


We shortened to "nearly 20,000 tons" instead of listing "Little Boy at 13,000 tons bombed Hiroshima and Fat man at 21, 000 tons bombed Nagasaki."

Tell North America, South America and Australia continents they were not involved. We won’t nitpick the word major.

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) also known as the Soviet Union, became Russia. Is it important? Today’s youth understands Russia better? Our map of WW II clearly labels USSR.

If the word Russia does not fit during WW II stories, why does Powell use "Russo," which means Russia, when describing the battles, such as Tursk?

To say that the first troops sent to Korea were not the 500 troops mentioned discounts the bravery of the first unit sent to Korea, July 4, 1952, its mission to delay the advance of the North Koreans until more U.S. troops could be deployed to Korea. That unit was Task Force Smith, led by Lt. Col. Charles "Brad" Smith, and consisted of 540 men who delayed the advance for almost one day using inferior equipment and losing 185 valiant men. They were followed by the 24th division.

While the ROK Marines occupied Inchon, the U.S. marines moved out toward Seoul 20 miles away.

The first draft when shortened deleted "the troops were driving toward the Yalu River in November of 1951 and were told they would be home by Christmas."

Korea was the first all-jet combat, and helicopters were first used to evacuate wounded and reduce deaths due to battle wounds by 50 percent of WW II figures.


Executive order 9981 by President Truman, July 26, 1948, established equality in the armed forces.

The evacuation started the afternoon of April and continued 30 April Saigon time.

Operation Desert Shield begins on Aug. 7, 1990. The first U.S. forces arrived in Saudi Arabia. Jan. 16, 1991.

The engraving says, "to become Air Force officers with knowledge, character and discipline motivated to lead…"

I would be happy to discuss or debate any part of the memorial.

Stillman is president of the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial. Send comments to

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