Birth of a military museum idea
Before proceeding any further, I must relate to you how the seed was planted to establish a significant military museum right here in Victoria.
It all began when the local American Legion Post No. 166 Cmdr. Roger Walleck attended a regional meeting in Hallettsville. While there, he noted the presence of a small but well presented area in their Legion Hall, devoted to objects from various military campaigns. On returning home, he stealthily named me historian for the local post and then invited me to go see that collection with him.
Of course, I was immediately impressed with what I saw. I feel strongly that we must do everything within our power to honor and remember all our veterans in any way we can. On the way home, we discussed ways we could accomplish this in a similar manner to what Hallettsville has done.
It so happens that the local American Legion has just paid off its mortgage on the Post Home building on East Santa Rosa Street. Rather than sit back and just use that building forever, a move had already been established to look for a new post home in a better location, with a safer environment.
A building committee had already been named.
We discussed that if a new location is established, a portion of the structure should be set aside for a similar, small museum area for education and teaching about our veterans.
The key to the whole process is what will develop for a new post home. The Leon A. Zear American Legion Post No 166 has limited resources and have only collected a relatively small building fund during the last 1 years.
Land on which to build a new post home or the purchase of an existing building have, to date, been completely out of reach due to cost. Any land or existing commercial building in a favorable location is far too expensive for our resources. We looked at an available downtown building but it would have needed to be totally rebuilt inside and parking was a significant problem.
We heard that select buildings on the Memorial Senior Campus site on Sam Houston might be available after the current construction is completed. So we put in our request for consideration if this should come true. However, we really didn't see any building there that fit our needs.
We next approached, the Victoria County Airport Commission asking them to consider our request for a land location on the Victoria Regional Airport. They were very kind and receptive and eager to work with us, but we would still have to build our own building at too great an expense for our budget.
A few weeks later, on a quiet, clear morning, Roger invited me to go with him to a comfortable retreat home he has just constructed in Gonzales County. The intention was to just share our thoughts and dreams on how we could assimilate a small museum into a new post home for the benefit of all. We were just sitting there drinking coffee, rocking our rockers, and just enjoying the view.
Roger quickly ended the focus on a Legion museum when he gave his opinion that such an undertaking was probably beyond the scope of what the Legion could handle.
He suggested the obvious, that such a significant museum would probably be an undertaking that might be more appropriately operated by the Victoria County Veterans Council.
This group is much larger and involves all the federally chartered veteran groups in the county as mentioned in my recent articles. This idea quickly ended the discussion because I agree with this idea 100 percent. We envision this as a potential grand undertaking, which will give a new character to Victoria.
In addition to visits from local students and citizens it will be a drawing card for people from outside the county to visit and use the other resources of the city.
Such an undertaking also opens up a variety of possible veteran activities, which I will discuss in future articles.
This column is a research project of Dr. Peter B. Riesz. Contact Riesz at email@example.com or 361-575-4600.