Why I Volunteer at the Americans In Wartime Museum.
Hello, My name is Michael and I am a volunteer at the Americans in Wartime Museum. As we approach the hallowed Memorial Day Holiday, I thought I would take a moment to tell you why I volunteer at the museum. The obvious answer is “Michael, it’s because you get to play with all those wonderful toys!” Well yes, that is a reason. But it is far more than that. So stick with me here.
It is about family. When I host tours during Open House, one of my fondest memories was a father bringing his 7yr old son. A call came over the Museum radio asking if anybody was near the Lee tank. I answered I was, and shortly the Father and Son appeared. I gave them a general walk-around of the tank, but was floored when the Father said “Son, this is what your Grandfather served on in the War.” At that point, I immediately saw a light go off in the young man’s eyes. He had heard about his Grandfather’s service to his country, but up until that point, they had been just been stories–ethereal. Now he had a big 12 foot high, 30 ton tank to see and touch. And suddenly those stories became very real to that 7yr old son. A moment he will hopefully remember for the rest of his life, I sure do.
Another time we were hosting a special event for a Veteran’s reunion from the Vietnam War. A group brought their families to the Tank Farm and we showed them our M42 Duster. Suddenly these men were transported back to places they hadn’t thought about or talked about for decades. The captain of industry assumed his Driver position. The others took up their crew positions like time had never passed. Without a word being spoken, the bond forged in battle was re-affirmed. Their families now had a glimmer of understanding of what had formed these men. We at the Museum had just finished a top-to-bottom restoration of the Duster and were proud to make that vehicle a part of their reunion.
It is about preserving history. I get to work with some of the most skilled armor mechanics in the world. There is almost nothing they can’t fix, or seemingly conjure out of thin air. I am constantly learning things about these vehicles that aren’t in any textbook. It is the sight, the smell, the sound, the vibrations, the fear, the tension of being around a steel beast. Whether a WWII Sherman, or a modern day T-72, I begin to understand the life of a tanker. The Model 1917 that might make a show at the September Open House was literally nothing but rust. But the skill and dedication to history guided the mechanics hands, since there were no manuals to help. Drive linkages were fabricated, tested, tweaked, fit again, and put in place. The Budda engine was acquired from out of nowhere and sputtered to life. That tank is the key stone of the entire U.S. Armor Corps. A vehicle a certain LT George S. Patton cut his teeth on.
It is about Patriotism. There is no group of Patriots more dedicated to Preserving the Past for the Future than the crew working at the American in Wartime Museum. Particularly the owner, Mr. Allan Cors, who sets a quiet example that humbles me each time I am around him. I strive to be as generous, giving, and Proud to Be an American as Mr. Cors. It makes all the little scrapes, bumps and torn clothes seem trivial when thinking about the Men and Women in uniform and in Civilian life sacrificing for the United States of America—all memories that Mr. Cors and the Americans in Wartime Museum are dedicated to preserving.
So take a moment this week in the run-up to Memorial Day and think about the true meaning of the day. It is not about sales, or grilling. It is about remembering the brave American citizens who gave their lives so that this great nation could remain safe and secure.