|PHOTO: 34th Inf. Div. Assoc.|
Minnesota National Guard public affairs
Released Oct. 4, 2014
The 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division Association held its 67th annual reunion at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center Oct. 3-4, Johnston, Iowa. Service members, veterans, and their families enjoyed a wide range of activities including firing weapons, life saving demonstrations, Afghanistan operations briefings and a tour of the Gold Star Military Museum at nearby Camp Dodge. The two-day event culminated in a formal banquet and memorial service.
The weekend's agenda was full of the usual camaraderie-building events. The annual business meeting. however, was far from boilerplate. After many years of what is known in the military as "steady-state operations," the 34th Inf. Div. Assoc. debuted significant changes in its priorities and set the stage for even more development. "I've been to many of these business meetings," said one member. "It is usually pretty quiet. We covered a lot of ground today!"
One of the most significant changes for the association was reflected in its new website, www.34ida.org. Just as Veterans Service Organizations and military alumni organizations nationwide struggle to remain relevant as their membership ages, the association is reaching out to younger Red Bull soldiers. The updated website, for example, is an attempt to include veterans of all eras.
In addition to the website, the association has recently developed marketing booths to help recruit members and increase awareness at public events in Iowa and Minnesota. New recruiting events offering a free drink to new and lifetime members have also been successful.
A number of items were proposed and accepted at the business meeting. The association established:
- A formalized annual program for recognizing individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the preservation of 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division history.
- A working group to review the membership due structure. Any changes to the dues would be implemented in 2016.
- A working group to investigate the possibility of sponsoring commemorative items, such as a fine art historical print or association coin.
In other business, a memorial project concept was presented briefly to the association, which would honor recently fallen Minnesota Red Bull Soldiers. The concept for this memorial features a portrait etched in marble of each fallen Red Bull. Facing this marble wall is a bronze sculpture of two life-size figures; a modern Red Bull soldier taking a moment to reflect on the names of his fallen comrades, and a National Guard Minuteman offering comfort to the grieving Soldier. The memorial will overlook the Rosemount Veterans Memorial Walk in Rosemount, Minn. The 501(c)3 non-profit project is currently seeking donations.
Future events are also encouraging progressive changes in the association. The 2015 reunion will be hosted in Minnesota for the first time in many years, by the newly-formed "Commander's Own" Chapter. Two years later, the 34th Infantry Division will celebrate its centennial on Aug. 25, 2017. A 34th Infantry Division centennial committee is forming to ensure the Red Bull will be honored throughout Iowa, Minnesota, and military communities.