Group still hopes for first class military museum
By Dr. Peter B. Riesz
The idea of a military museum came about when a few members of the local American Legion Post No. 166 visited the Legion Hall in Hallettsville to see the modest military museum they have in their post home. The group was impressed with what they saw and vowed to try to have a similar museum in the local post quarters.
However, after thinking it over, the group decided that a really first class museum, worked through the Victoria County Veterans Council, would be much more appropriate. This would involve all the veteran groups in Victoria County and could result in a unique museum which would properly honor our veterans. The dream is that it would be of a caliber like the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg or the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. That means that it would have the potential to attract many tourists from out of town.
The group is not naive enough to not recognize that this is a huge undertaking. There are two areas which must be solved before proceeding. One is the financial problem. Museums are huge sinkholes requiring a huge financial commitment, which must be addressed. We have not even tested the water in that area. The other is to find a satisfactory location for the project. This must be solved before proceeding. The next most critical step is to find an affordable place to house such an undertaking.
Without going into any specifics, the group hopes for a satisfactory building and grounds at very little expense. We are patiently waiting to see if such a property might be available. We have an area in mind but don't want to name it specifically. We are working in good faith with an entity, but if an arrangement is not reached, we don't want to embarrass the group involved. We would not want to attach any blame on them if the idea falls through.
The building involved is more than 100 years old, and one thought is to begin by restoring that building to its original, grand appearance. This would be very, very expensive, but would result in much needed space for storage and displays. It would also be in step with an emphasis on restoring old structures, such as the courthouse restoration efforts of the THC. Considerable improvement of the grounds would also be required to bring it to a satisfactory appearance.
Once the question of a site is solved, the group would need to work quickly. A steering committee would be formed to outline the scope of the project, form by-laws and decide how to proceed. The main emphasis would be on cataloging and identifying objects of our local veterans and have them document how they acquired each and how they were used. There would need to be a professional staff hired for the overall operation and to set up the displays.
Besides military objects, there are thoughts of including a military history of Victoria and surrounding areas. The history of the building in which the museum is housed and history of the donor group would also be included. Space would be made available to our veteran groups for their meetings and special events, if needed. A suitable memorial space with monuments and banners for each group would also be made available on the grounds.
Emphasis would be placed on the education of our students. Considerable attention would be made to coordinate displays with curriculum of the school systems to aid in teaching in this aspect of our history. A vigorous lecture series for the public would be emphasized. A book and gift store would be available where suitable materials could be purchased.
Special events could be held to attract significant numbers of visitors to our city. A huge Armed Forces Day Parade might be planned yearly. Also, dramatic sound and light performances on various subjects could be developed, which could be repeated over and over to significant audiences.
Stay tuned for further developments.
This column is a research project of Dr. Peter B. Riesz. Contact Riesz at email@example.com or 361-575-4600.