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Column: Help needed to complete local military museum

ESCANABA — I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the new U.P. Military Museum that will join the new Webster Marble “Inventing the Outdoors” exhibit at the Multi Complex on the U.P. State Fairgrounds.

The mission is to recognize and honor the men and women who have served in the military and those who are serving today. The Upper Peninsula has contributed to every war and conflict since our country was founded. The exhibit will display unique information focused on the Upper Peninsula and the veterans who gave so much for our freedom.

We have an awesome opportunity to recognize and pay tribute to our military heroes as well as educate those who are far removed from the horrors of war. We will also dedicate a portion of the space for the Honor Flight Legacy Museum.

This will be the first time that a space will be dedicated to recounting stories of veterans from across the entire Upper Peninsula. For nearly two centuries, U.P. men and women have served our nation. They have made sacrifices to ensure our freedom and have shaped communities throughout the U.P. This museum will help visitors understand the military experience. It will tell stories of uncommon valor displayed by U.P. soldiers. And through artifacts, honors, letters home, diaries and other materials, will help us all remember and understand the enduring contribution of our veterans.

The impact on the community will be far-reaching. As travelers visit Delta County, we hope to give them a reason to stay awhile. The Multi-Use Complex has been open since the end of August and visitors have been amazed by the new building and the opportunity to learn about the area as well as being escorted through the Marble Exhibit and given a sneak peek of the Military Museum, which has created excitement for return visits.

The museum will be designed to provide a rewarding experience for many visitors – tourists, U.P. residents, veterans and their families, and school groups. It will provide interactive opportunities to learn as well as quiet places to reflect. It will acknowledge the many memorials across the U.P. that have been erected to honor our veterans. And finally, it will look at the ways that we continue to recognize and thank those that have served and continue to serve.

This is a major undertaking, which started with the generous donation from the John and Melissa Besse Foundation for $1 million. It cannot be completed without the help of individuals, families, business and organizations here in Delta County and across the U.P. We are looking for donations of time, dollars and artifacts to help complete this important work. Specifically, we need:

– Financial contributions to help construct exhibits.

– Assistance with research, interviews and writing.

– Design and fabrication expertise.

– Artifacts, including diaries and letters home.

We are grateful for the support and encouragement that’s been received as this long-time vision of the community becomes reality. If you are interested in learning more about ways you can be involved, contact the Commerce Center at 906-786-2192.

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Sheila Krueger is associate director of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce

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