WILLMAR, Minn. (KMSP) - A man from Kandiyohi, Minn. has built up quite a collection of war memorabilia from over the years, and he's putting it all on display for Veterans Day in Willmar. Many say they donated to the show because Jonathan Lindstrand’s passion inspired them.
The 36-year-old has been called a pack rat and a hoarder, but that is a mere side effect of what has come from producing what might just be the largest private military memorabilia collections in Minnesota.
“From the rice patties to the jungle, war was a living hell,” Ronald Mackedanz who served in Vietnam and has a uniform on display, said. “People are interested.”
Once a year, during the week leading up to Veterans Day, Lindstrand shows of his collection at the Willmar War Memorial Auditorium in Willmar. It's something he does in order to bring attention to those who served.
“We actually have the veteran’s uniform on display and then get the photograph of the veteran,” Lindstrand said.
The collection is made up of more than 5,000 pieces -- most from Minnesota.
“I haven't heard of anyone else with anything quite this large,” Lindstrand said. “Pretty much anything that wasn't nailed down.”
Lindstrand hopes it gives vistas to the auditorium a chance to think about war and what it means to serve -- “It gives them a chance to realize, it is real, it wasn't just an episode on TV.”
So, each year, during the week leading up to Veterans Day he pulls out all the photos, weapons, and one-of-a-kind items -- some dating back to the Civil War.
“This is an officer’s field manual from 1873,” Lindstrand said while showing off one piece of memorabilia. “These are actual people who fought and served and did our country proud.”
Tony Morris, who donated to the show, served with the Marines during Desert Storm and says Lindstrand just gets it -- "It's a complete and total honor for me," he said.
Even though Lindstrand never served in the military, he's now become a curator of sorts for veterans, helping preserve the memories so the community never forgets.
Willmar's Veterans Day celebration at the auditorium begins at 7:30 p.m on Wednesday.