David O’Connor had his Bronze Star pinned to his chest 65 years after he earned it on Heartbreak Ridge.

It was a public reminder of service and sacrifice on behalf of a man who can no longer share his own memories of running through enemy fire to direct a mortar attack before leading his men in a bayonet charge.

O’Connor, a retired teacher, is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease and lives in a veteran’s home, where U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., visited Jan. 27 to present the medal.

O’Connor’s long career of public and military service included tours of duty in World War II — he was a medic during the D-Day landing — and later in Korea, where he earned a Silver Star in a battle just a few weeks after he earned the Bronze Star.

He rarely spoke of his service, so it was up to his children to search the archives and request the medal.

“It was that silent generation,” said his son, Stephen O’Connor, paraphrasing Walz’s remarks. “They came home, they raised families, they did their work and they forgot. The challenge was that we forgot with them.”

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks


Three cities tabbed for new human rights offices

Rochester, Worthington and Duluth would get regional human rights offices under the state budget proposed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

The governor’s budget includes $2.3 million to open Department of Human Rights offices in the three cities, as well as adding one more worker at the state’s existing human rights office in St. Cloud.

“The creation of regional offices in Rochester, Duluth and Worthington will allow us to work with local community partners to realize the unique vision in each region that ensures opportunities for all,” said Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey.



Plan underway to explore regional culture in depth

A six-month planning effort between the city of Mankato, Twin Rivers Council for the Arts and the City Center Partnership is underway to help define culture in southern Minnesota.

Community meetings are scheduled that will include a brief presentation about the previous plan and current state of the arts, roundtable discussions and performances by local artists.

The sessions are planned for 6 p.m., Feb. 21 and 10 a.m. Feb. 25 in the Verizon Wireless Center, room 245 at 1 Civic Center Plaza, Mankato.

Community members also are encouraged to bring a small object, drawing, design, photo or description representing the theme “Imagining 2027.”

Items may be used in “Museum of Ideas,” a temporary interactive display of the community’s vision for arts and culture that will be featured in the Verizon Center lobby from Feb. 21 to 25.

Call 507-387-8600 for more information.

Mark Brunswick @markabrunswick