Remembrance in Stone

Minuteman Missile Monument

County: LaMoure, North Dakota

Location: W side of town of LaMoure, on S side of Highway 13

Coordinates: N46o21.332' W98o17.942'

The Minuteman Missile Monument in LaMoure is a prime example of how historic sites inspire diverse and changing interpretations. Featuring an actual deactivated Minuteman missile, the monument symbolizes the arrival of the Cold War in America's heartland, particularly North Dakota.

Viewed by some as an unwelcome intrusion of global conflicts into rural communities, the deployment of nuclear weapons in the region was welcomed by many in small towns such as LaMoure, where residents viewed the missiles as a deterrent to war and signed up as ground observers to watch the skies for incoming Soviet missiles. The monument was erected at the height of US involvement in the Vietnam War in 1968, the same year the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress an experiment in Communist Party liberalization there. A program ceremony from the monument's dedication says the missile "represents not only a safeguard to our Nation but is basically a symbol of freedom." The site was rededicated in 1970 to commemorate the 25th year in the US Senate for Milton Young, who was instrumental in bringing the missiles to North Dakota and the monument to LaMoure.

With the new policy of detente between the United States and Soviet Union in the 1970s and Young's retirement from the Senate in 1981, LaMoure no longer celebrated "Missile Day," and the monument fell into disrepair. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 further eroded the site's political symbolism, and the monument was taken down as a public eyesore in the fall of 2001.

In 2003 a group of LaMoure citizens, including Marcia Young, formed a committee to restore the monument, raising more than $10,000 to renovate and maintain the site. Today, the monument is increasingly identified with Senator Young and continues to serve as a source of pride for the community of LaMoure. For a generation of people raised in the shadow of the Cold War, it has a more profound meaning.--Research by Cassandra J. Ptacek, HIST 489, NDSU, Spring 2007

Recommended Reading

LaFeber, Walter. America, Russia, and the Cold War: 1945-1975. New York: Wiley, 1976.

Crockat, Richard. The Fifty Years War: The United States and Soviet Union in World Politics, 1941-1991. New York: Routledge, 1995.

Powaski, Ronald E. March to Armageddon: The United States and the Arms Race, 1939 to Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

SAC History of Minuteman Missile / Minuteman Missile National Historic Site / Milton Young Congressional Biography

Photo Gallery Photos by Cassie Ptacek, 15 April 2007 Video
28 April 2007

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Remembrance in Stone / Center for Heritage Renewal