(A press release regarding this museum was sent to the Military Press here in San Diego. Even though the museum is over a thousand miles away, we were touched by how far small communities go to celebrate and honor resident veterans and patriots.)
By Kelly Paul, Editor, Advance Yeoman
After eight years of planning, Sandy Hart’s vision to open a Veterans and Patriots Museum in Wickliffe is about to come to fruition. On Saturday, March 31, the community is invited to come out to celebrate the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Kentucky Veterans and Patriots Museum. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at the same time that the establishment of the western Kentucky chapter of the Marine Corps League will take place.
A Ballard County Marine Corps veteran, James M. Yancey, will be honored by having the chapter named in his memory. The museum is a long time in coming. Sandy Hart has been working to get funds for the museum ever since she organized a trip to Washington D.C., which involved 17 busses transporting veterans to the World War II Memorial in 2004. Hart was pleased when she was able to obtain the former Wickliffe Church of Christ building on KY 286 when they disbanded. Hart has made an arrangement with the church to pay the $150,000 asking price. To date, donations for the museum have amounted to $20,000, which will go toward paying for the building. The museum features different rooms focusing on different wars. One room is dedicated to the WWII DC trip. The room features several photographs from the trip and other memorabilia. One item is an afghan that had been draped over the shoulders of Hart during the trip.
The museum also features a Vietnam War room which houses a square from a quilt from Sergeant David R. Kelser, U.S. Army. Hart says Kelser had sent a square to be included in a national quilt in Washington D.C. She says Kelser told her he wanted to make sure another quilt square would be in her museum for all of Ballard County to view. Hart is excited at the response she has had regarding the museum. She received a call recently from the VFW Post in Oklahoma saying they would like to send an entire selection from the last WWI Veteran in Kentucky to die. She is also excited that Ballard County native George Lane is going to allow her to display his uniform along with all the metals that adorned it. Hart looks to the wall that adorns a rendition of the USS Indianapolis and envisions what it will look like when it is completed. It seems that everything Hart picks up in the museum has a special memory to her. The meaning behind each item brings tears to her eyes as she longs to thank each and every veteran for what they have done for our county. She is quick to tell the story behind each item. One such piece is a painting of the “Cool Fool.” This is a picture of the airplane manned by the Tuskegee Airman who ushered Ballard County native Dan Price to safety.
Another item cherished by Hart is the pig cut-out of the American Flag done by Kelly Davis. Hart seemed at a loss for words when looking at the cut-out. She is so full of pride for all veterans; the museum will allow her an outlet for feeling for her county and the ones who have fought so bravely to defend it. Hart says she will never charge a veteran to come to the museum. She is looking toward asking for donations rather than for admission from other patrons. The museum is tentatively scheduled to be open on Fridays and Saturdays. She would also like the museum to be open on Sundays after church. In addition to these days, Hart will open the museum during the week by appointment. She is looking forward to having a contest for students to design a flag for the museum. Information regarding the contest will be forthcoming. Hart is also offering engraved bricks for sale that would adorn the walk-way in front of the museum. These bricks can be purchased at a cost of $50. More information regarding the bricks may be obtained from Sandy Hart at 270-335-3128.
Presently, Hart, along with family and friends, is working hard to put the final touches on the museum and is looking forward to March 31st when she can share her Veteran’s treasures with all who care to take a moment out of their day and recognize our military heroes.