Updated: 09/14/2013 5:21 PM KSTP.com By: Tom Hauser
The commissioning ceremony of the new USS Minnesota inspired patriotism and a bit of awe among the people who attended last weekend.
It's only the third Navy vessel in history to bear the "Minnesota" name. The ceremony in Norfolk, VA, attracted a delegation of 70 Minnesotans, including the state's two U.S. Senators and two dozen state lawmakers who all paid their own way to the ceremony.
Initially, the Navy League of the Twin Cities hoped to get a $200,000 commitment from the state legislature to help give the commissioning ceremony a distinct Minnesota flavor. They came close, but in last-minute negotiating the money was removed from a budget bill last spring. In true patriotic fashion, private donors ranging from individuals to major corporations raised $300,000.
The Navy League hasn't given up on gaining official state support. Next year they'll seek $200,000 to start a fund to give ongoing support to the 135-member crew of the USS Minnesota. They'd like to create a U of M scholarship fund for family of crew members and make it possible for crew members to travel to Minnesota and visit school classrooms.