Brainerd History Week is now history but congratulations should go out to organizers of the inaugural event that ran from June 16-22. The week was an eclectic mix of serious and light-hearted, ranging from the kiddie parade to the reconciliation event conducted with representatives of the Ojibwe tribe.
Attendance could have been better at specific events but that's typical of a first-year event. The Evergreen Cemetery tour was plagued with rainy weather that may have discouraged turnout. Still, the events captured the attention of the public and more than one event prompted individuals to learn a few tidbits of Brainerd's history that they hadn't known before.
The solemn reconciliation event brought to light the lynching of two members of the White Earth nation in a reminder of one of the more disturbing aspects of the city's history. Organizers Carl Faust and Mary Koep, along with the balance of the Brainerd History Week Committee and other area officials, should be commended for embracing Brainerd's history - warts and all - as they sought to inspire interest in the city's past. A plaque is expected to permanently mark the site of the tragic lynching. Beyond its historical significance, the reconciliation event marked one of the rare occasions that organizers of any official Brainerd function reached out to the Indian community.
Brainerd is fortunate to have many stately buildings from its past that are still standing and functional. It's the kind of history that's easily taken for granted but is irreplaceable. Old-timers who remember past architectural landmarks such as the Northern Pacific Depot and the Ransford Hotel won't be around forever. If we're to preserve even the memories of those great old buildings we have to take note of them now, before our collective recall fades away completely.