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Veterans council aims for local military museum

March 23, 2010 at midnight
Updated March 22, 2010 at 10:23 p.m.


By Dr. Peter B. RieszBY PETER REISZ

The dream continues for the Victoria County Veterans Council, which wants to establish a significant military museum in Victoria at a site to be determined.

The overall plan is to include three divisions to such a museum.

One division would display and explain various objects related to the military from time zero in Victoria, through the present and into the future.

Another division help the various member organizations of the VCVC with their meetings and record keeping.

The final section would honor whatever building is established as a home for the museum.

For the military collections in the museum, at least initially, we are not interested in collecting large machines such as airplanes, tanks or vehicles. The general feeling is to make the museum a collection of smaller objects, newspaper clippings, photographs, uniforms, etc. We are looking for things acquired or used by our veterans in the course of their military duty. The main thrust is to correctly identify each donated item, document what it is, how it was used and how the donor was associated with it.

We want the museum to be a unique collection, not duplicated anywhere else in the general area. We want the collection to be educational and interesting for local residents. Also, we would stress use of the museum by Victoria schools and other school districts in the education of our youth. We feel the collection will be unique enough to attract many out of town tourists, who will tour the museum and enjoy the associated activities. Of course, while here, they would also take advantage of our local motels, restaurants and other community services.

Next time I will share some of the objects that were offered for use. We already have dozens of objects donated or pledged without even actively collecting anything. I think this is an encouraging sign for the overall prospect for the success of such a military museum.

Special note to veterans and their families:

1. On Dec. 18, 2009, the Harris County Commissioners Court passed a resolution favoring our veterans. They voted not to collect money any of their county toll-ways from any car displaying the DAV, Purple Heart, or Medal of Honor license plate. Any vehicle displaying one of these plates should just pass through the high speed lane and not be billed. Do not go through the lanes where cash is collected. To my knowledge, to date, this is only for Harris County.

2. Anyone who can prove they served at least one day of federal service and were honorably discharged is entitled by law to have a military presence at their funeral if they desire. The minimal service is the presentation of a folded flag and playing of "Taps" by two active duty persons from the branch of service of the deceased. Locally, the VCVC gladly assumes this duty and provides a more extensive service which is available free of charge to anyone who asks for our presence. We do either a simple flag fold and presentation or a full military service with flag fold and presentation, rifle volleys, and playing of "Taps." The choice is up to the family. Member organization banners are also present. We are all honored to be asked to do this, which involves from 15-25 veterans. During the planning for the funeral the family of the deceased should be asked by the funeral home they use if they desire our presence. If so, the funeral home will put the wheels in motion to arrange for this meaningful honor to the deceased. The family need do nothing else other than provide a proof of honorable service.

3. It is important that every veteran register his or her discharge papers, usually their Form DD-214, with the local county clerk. This document establishes universal proof that one served and was honorably discharged. This is very important when applying for VA benefits such as a free headstone or establishing one's honorable discharge when asking for a military funeral service and flag. This registration is done without charge. Val Huvar, the Victoria County clerk, is good at registering this document, if presented, and providing free copies of the same, if asked for. The hope is that the incoming county clerk will be as cooperative and continue this fine service for our veterans.

This column is a research project of Dr. Peter B. Riesz. Contact Riesz at pbriesz@suddenlink.net or 361-575-4600.

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