Exhibitions Detail

Sullivan Home

A reproduction of the Sullivan home's living room.

The story of the five Sullivan brothers is representative of all Iowans who stepped forward to serve, and if necessary, give their life for their country. The living room of the Sullivan home, where so many visited to extend their condolences, is reproduced. The Gold Star flag, representing the combat death of five family members, is the actual flag that was displayed in the Sullivan family home window.

Waterloo's five Sullivan Brothers gained national attention when they enlisted in the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor and insisted they be allowed to "stick together" while in the service. After initially refusing, the Navy granted their request. All five brothers were lost when their ship, the USS Juneau, was torpedoed on November 13, 1942, following the Battle of Guadalcanal. This sacrifice remains the largest single loss for a family in American military history.

"As Commander-in-Chief, I want you to know that the entire nation shares your sorrow ... I am sure that we all take heart in the knowledge that they fought side by side. As one of your sons wrote, 'We will make a team together that can't be beat.' It is this spirit which in the end must triumph."
— President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Thomas and Aleta Sullivan, January 13, 1943