Museum tells veterans’ stories

Remodeled venue is in the Masonic Building.

The museum opened in 2010 in one room at the former Stouder Memorial Hospital. It reopened its doors recently following a remodeling in its home since 2011 on the second floor of the Masonic Building on West Main Street.

“It all history. We would like people never to forget what’s happened in the past,” said Mitch Fogle, museum executive director and a Navy veteran.

Mannequins dressed in military uniforms and military and other flags such as the POW flag, greet visitors as they head down the main hallway to the museum.

The displays in each room are done by themes from the Early War Room, to the World War I and II rooms, a Vietnam Room and a Modern War Room.

In between are other offerings such as a library; the Home Front Room, with an old time radio and articles and photos of the World War II canteen girls; a display of wartime mess kits and K-rations; and an artifact from the World Trade Center received in 2011, among others.

The museum covers veterans in a general area from Columbus to the east and the Indiana border to the west, Cincinnati to the south and Lima to the north.

“We’ve gotten stuff from all over. A lot of people in those outlying areas don’t know about us. We need more exposure,” Fogle said.

Work continues to provide more signs and labels on each item on display whether in a case or stand alone. “There is more labeling than before, which makes it more pleasurable for the people who come up,” Fogle said.

The remodeling is complete, but improvements to the museum and its collection are never done.

Local artist Karen Purke is working on a mural for the museum hallway that will feature panels of America’s wars starting with the Revolutionary War. Other plans include new lighting throughout the museum.

People donate anywhere from one item to whole collections to the museum. “We will get things donated that people don’t know much about and will do research on them (donated items),” Fogle said.

Anyone interested in donating items is asked to visit during museum hours.

The nonprofit museum is operated using dollars from memberships, grants, donations and fundraisers.

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