12-19-2014 10-02-07 AMAs another year nears a close, once again I say I cannot believe how quickly time flies… And, as the old saying goes, the older you get the faster it goes! I would like to take this time to say a very heartfelt “Thank You“ to everyone I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with this past year. Words cannot describe how appreciative I am of their support, not only of me but also for the museum and our veterans!

I would also like to say “Thank You,” and explain how very special each and every one of our volunteers is to the museum; we honestly could not do it without you. I would like to introduce you to one of those special volunteers who also happens to be a very special Veteran. Meet MSgt (R) William “Bill” Schueler.
I knew the first time I met Bill that we would become fast friends, and turns out we had a lot more in common than I could imagine. We are both retired from the Air Force, we both retired as Master Sergeants and we had the same job! Although I enlisted eleven years after Bill retired, we were “kindred souls” right off. What impressed me the most about Bill Schueler was the answer he gave me when I asked him why he joined the military. It certainly wasn’t any standard answer I had ever heard.

12-19-2014 10-02-19 AM

“I joined the USAF because of my sense of gratitude and patriotism due to my upbringing. My parents were immigrants who arrived in the USA very early in the 1900’s, coming from the area of Odessa, Russia. They were considered German/Russians due to their families migrating to Russia in the late 1700s to early 1800s from Germany. They settled into various farming colonies set up around Odessa at the invitation of the Russian Czar. The Czar wanted to develop the area around Odessa into farms and invited experienced German farmers to migrate to Russia. They were offered various incentives to migrate. Many German/Russians migrated to the US in the late 1800s due to the Czar not living up to their agreements. My earliest known relative, my great uncle Matthias Schueler, served in the Spanish American War in 1898, and eventually settled in North Dakota, where I grew up. My parents always felt blessed to be able to become citizens of the United States. My older brother who served in WWII was also a great influence on my decision.”

In his over 20-year career in the AF, he was stationed all over the world, including Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines. After the Vietnam War, Bill and his lovely wife Nellie (Sides) decided to settle in Athens. They opened S&S Motors, Inc., and had a long-haul trucking business before retiring. After retiring, Bill became active in various service organizations which include the Vietnam Veterans of America, American Veterans, the American Legion, and of course the Alabama Veterans’ Museum.

He says he feels it is important to preserve military history. “I served with many of these men and women in the military and dealt with them on a daily basis in their businesses. I was very surprised to learn the heroism of these men and women, since most of them never discussed anything more than they served their country and were proud to do so. It is very heartwarming to hear their stories!”
If you would like to hear more of the story, come on down to the Alabama Veterans’ Museum; you will be amazed at what you might learn!
By: Sandra Thompson, Director, Alabama Veterans’ Museum

12-19-2014 10-02-28 AM

11-21-2014 2-56-54 PMThere’s a new way to honor and remember the special Veteran in your life!

Threads of Honor, a fundraiser for the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives, kicked off on November 11th. Wes and Marlene Isom, owners of Isom’s Orchard are continually finding ways to give back to their community, their “Dinners in the Orchard” have raised thousands of dollars for local causes. When Jerry Barksdale, one of the founding members of the museum and still a dedicated volunteer approached Marlene to ask about perhaps doing a dinner for the museum, she said “Oh, I have a better idea for the Alabama Veterans Museum, one I have been thinking of for quite a while!”

Director Sandy Thompson and other board members met with Marlene and were excited and touched by the idea… hence “Threads of Honor” was named. Veterans names and other military information will be hand stitched by local quilters on quilting squares, these squares will then be put together to form a quilt that will hang in perpetuity in the Alabama Veterans Museum.

11-21-2014 2-57-04 PM

“Threads” are available from $25.00 – $500.00, dependent on the amount of information and where it is positioned on the quilt. Quilting and the military have a long history together; the Civil War marked a season of change in American quilting. In the early 1860s, men took quilts into military service as bedding. The wartime quilt was used to communicate a soldier’s religious beliefs, to smuggle secret messages, and to provide supplies through enemy lines.
“What a wonderful way to not only create an heirloom but to honor our veterans. We are hoping to collect at least 3,000 names, which really isn’t that many in a community with such a large military population,” said Director Thompson. The quilt will be unveiled which gives us about a year to collect the names.
For more information or to purchase a name, contact the museum at 256- 771-7578 or Marlene Isom at 256-497-3786 or 256-232-0808. Go by Isom’s Orchard and purchase a thread and you will receive a free bag of apples!

11-21-2014 2-57-15 PM

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Alabama Veterans’ Museum, I would like to thank the entire community for their continued support of our Veterans and of the Museum! This is certainly a community who cherishes their Veterans and we could not do what we do without you!!!
By: Sandra Thompson, Director, Alabama Veteran’s Museum

11-21-2014 2-57-26 PM

10-17-2014 2-09-11 PM“Vietnam…More than Just a Name,” A Jackie Greenhaw production will be held on Sunday, October 26th at 2:00pm. As in past years, this show will be held at the Athens Limestone County Senior Center at 912 W. Pryor St.

This year’s production is a tribute to all the service men and women that were involved in the Vietnam War, both here at home and abroad. The sacrifices they made, many unappreciated at the time, are now realized as noble and valiant. Today we salute these brave Americans as ‘Heroes,’ putting “service above self” for the cause of freedom.
The show features Forrest Gump, now a grandfather (Papa) and his grandson (Trey). While waiting on the bus, Papa and Trey carry us through the Vietnam era. The opening scene features Forrest (Papa) and his now grown grandson (Trey) visiting ‘Bubba’ at the Vietnam Wall Memorial at Christmas in the future.

Tickets for the show are $10.00 each and are available at the Alabama Veterans Museum. A shuttle bus service will be provided from the DHR parking lot at 1007 W. Market St, Athens. Shuttle service will begin at 1:00pm. Tickets are also on sale for an original Karen Middleton oil painting depicting the war in Vietnam. Tickets are $5.00 for the painting and the drawing will be held just prior to the show.

10-17-2014 2-09-21 PM

Hard to believe, but it’s time to start thinking about a parade!!! The seventh annual Veterans Day Parade will be held on Saturday, Nov 8th at 11:00am. Line up will begin at 10:00am at the Athens High School parking lot. The parade will follow the same route as the Christmas parade.

Our Grand Marshall this year will be Retired Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Billy Duncan! Bill was instrumental in getting the museum started and is the founder of our monthly coffee call. CSM Duncan, who joined the Army in 1950 and served over twenty-seven years, was both in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. As a Master Parachutist, he has made over 2,300 jumps. He holds parachute wings from the US, England, France, Norway and Germany. His medals include the Bronze Star with eight oak leaf clusters and the V device for Valor, the Army Commendation Medal with V device and 3 oak leaf clusters, and the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters. CSM Duncan’s jump gear and medals are on display at the museum. Accompanying CSM Duncan will be his lovely wife, Helen Ruth.

Parade entry procedures will be a little different this year. There will not be an entrance fee to participate in the parade. However, if you would like to make a donation, all monies donated will go to support the free community Thanksgiving meal. For more information on the parade or the free meal, please contact Roxanne or Alysha at 256-998-4795. Checks may be made payable to “Helping Limestone County,” or a donation may be made at any Reliance bank.
We still have our Veterans Museum challenge coins for sale! They are going quick, so stop in today and pick one up for $15.00.
By: Sandra Thompson, Director, Alabama Veterans’ Museum

10-17-2014 2-09-35 PM

9-19-2014 1-27-45 PMYou won’t get the day off work, your children still have to go to school, and many won’t even stop to pause and reflect or even think about all of the sacrifices that were made for their freedom. However, each year on the third Friday in September many will. Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Day is not a “holiday” to be celebrated, but a day of remembrance; a day to remember all those that paid the ultimate price, or were held captive as prisoners of war.

According to the Department of Defense, (DOD) there are over 80,000 individuals unaccounted for from the Vietnam War and past conflicts. The majority are from WWII, with a staggering 73,536. Until 1979, there was no day to honor these heroic individuals. The first year, resolutions were passed in Congress and the first national ceremony was held in Washington, DC. The first “Missing Man Formation” was flown at Langley AFB, Virginia. National POW/MIA Recognition Day legislation was introduced in 1995, and ceremonies are now held throughout the nation. The Missing Man Table and Honor Ceremony is one of them ,and this humble ceremony goes as follows:
As you entered the room, you may have noticed a special table; it is reserved to honor our missing men.
Set for six, the empty chairs represent Americans who were or are missing from each of the services – Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard – and civilians, all with us in spirit.

9-19-2014 1-27-56 PM

The table is round – to show our everlasting concern.
The cloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve.
The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans….and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers.
The red ribbon symbolizes our continued determination to account for them.
A slice of lemon reminds us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.
A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.
The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return – alive or dead.
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith in our country, founded as one nation under God, to sustain those lost from our midst.
The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share a toast.
The chairs are empty – they are missing……………..

Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor America’s POW/MIAs, to the success of our efforts to account for them, and to the safety of all now serving our Nation!

I was appalled when I read that an Air Force base removed their Missing Man table from their dining hall because there was a Bible on the table. I think it was best summed up by U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-LA, who also took issue with the removal: “Since when does one unnamed, unknown individual have veto power over the First Amendment rights of all people in the military and in this case the Air Force? The inclusion of the Bible has nothing to do with the faith of those using the dining facilities. It’s symbolic of the faith of those missing or imprisoned, and the faith of their loved ones that those missing will return. In such situations, faith is all we have.”

We fly the POW/MIA flag to ensure that as Americans we remember our responsibility to stand behind those who serve our Nation, and do everything possible to account for those who do not return. Lest we forget!
By: Sandra Thompson, Director, Alabama Veterans’ Museum

8-15-2014 3-24-53 PMAmazing things are continually happening at the Alabama Veterans’ Museum! Our August 2nd Coffee Call was certainly no exception. This month we were lucky to receive a very special donation from one of my favorite heroes, Mr. Sherwin Callander. The following is a bit about how he came to make this donation.

If you have watched the news, picked up the paper, or have been on Facebook recently, you have probably heard of Mr. Callander and his invitation to return to France for a D-Day remembrance ceremony. Well, getting there was an adventure in itself! A WWII hero who was actually stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked (but was lucky enough to be away from port), Callander landed at Utah Beach as part of the invasion on the French beaches. When invited back by the French government for a 70-year remembrance ceremony, Mr. Callander, didn’t realize he was going to have to pay his own way. However, thanks to his granddaughter, Elaine Oakes, and the media, he was able to raise over $10,000 to finance the trip.
Thinking the hardest obstacle was behind him, imagine his surprise when he went to get a passport and they told him he was not an American citizen! Born in Canada in 1920 to an American mother and Scottish father, he believed he was a citizen all his life. “I went through all my schools saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag every morning. You had to do that when I went to school. And then I joined the Navy. And nobody asked me for proof before until I wanted to go to France.”

8-15-2014 3-25-17 PM

Callander could not provide proper documentation to prove his citizenship for a passport. Prior to 1994, one could only be granted citizenship through their father’s side. Luckily that was changed and Mr. Callander was declared a citizen retroactively. He did still take the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America. Upon hearing of his dilemma, the officials with Immigration declared him a citizen since birth and his passport was expedited just in time to board the plane!

While in France, his adventure continued. He attended the French National Assembly, had lunch with United States President Barack Obama, was serenaded by young Polish girls, and even gave Nancy Pelosi his business card, which if you have never seen says “so many skirts, so little time.” All of this while celebrating his 94th birthday!

Upon his return, he realized he had money left over and he decided to donate that money. “I never realized there were so many wonderful people in the world who were willing to help a stranger. And my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for what you said and what you donated! With excess funds, we are donating to the Athens Veterans’ Museum in Athens, AL where I am a member–they are needing to add on to their building for all the artifacts they have stored in their attic. The rest will go to the Wounded Warrior Project. Thanks again!”
Daily we walk in the shadows of heroes; Mr. Callander is truly one of them.
By: Sandra Thompson, Director, Alabama Veterans’ Museum

8-15-2014 3-25-31 PM