ST. PAUL – State Rep. Dean Urdahl accepted an appointment to co-chair a task force which will promote and share Minnesota’s connection with the Civil War in commemoration of the war’s 150th anniversary.
“The Civil War Commemoration Task Force was established to help Minnesotans explore their personal and community connections to our nation’s Civil War,” said Urdahl, R-Acton Township. “Our job will be to commemorate the anniversary of the Civil War by promoting historic state sites and establishing a series of activities to share the culture of the mid-1860s.”
Urdahl said tours of Minnesota Civil War battlefield sites and other key historic places like the recruitment office is Wasioja, Camp Ripley, Fort Snelling and Shakopee Landing, could be on the itinerary. Promotion of museums such as the Grand Army of the Republic Hall in Litchfield also is on the task force’s radar, he said.
Furthermore, Urdahl said Civil War-era entertainment – including re-enactments of groups like the Hutchinson Family Singers, or a Civil War-themed ball in St. Paul – is under consideration.
“I also would like to see traveling museum-type exhibits that can move from town to town on so citizens view letters, diaries, journals and other writings from the Civil War era,” Urdahl said. “The rolling exhibits also could share artifacts like guns, medals, buttons, buckles, uniforms and other gear.”
The Civil War was Urdahl’s specialty during the 35 years he taught American history at New London-Spicer. Urdahl also has chaired the Meeker County Historical Society and authored three books chronicling events which took place in Minnesota during the Civil War. He also recently served as Minnesota’s commissioner on the national Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission to outline the President’s impact upon Minnesota during that period and beyond.
"Our nation's history is measured up to and from the Civil War," Urdahl said. "It's impact is still felt today. The Minnesota Dakota Conflict is considered a part of the Civil War and we must recognize this as we observe the events of 1861 to 1865."
Gov. Mark Dayton established the task force through an executive order last spring. Dayton appointed Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to serve as one co-chair and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, appointed Urdahl to share that capacity. The panel will consist of six state officials and up to nine at-large citizens, serving through 2015.
Dean Urdahl represents District 18B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The district includes most of Meeker County and a portion of Wright County. This is Urdahl’s fifth term in the Legislature after being elected in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.