On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives, I would like to say “Thank You” to our wonderful community for another outstanding year! It is amazing how time just seems to fly by. It’s like it was just yesterday I was writing this column in December, highlighting our upcoming events.
I would like to share a little with everyone about what makes us the #1 tourist attraction in Limestone County.
In 2015, the museum hosted over 10,300 visitors. These visitors included guests from all over the world as well as right here in our own back yard. I am still amazed at the number of people I talk with who say “I didn’t even know this museum existed!” Some say it is the best kept secret in Limestone County. Well I always say…”Don’t keep it a secret, tell everyone you know!” We also provided a meeting place for over 135 get-togethers, conducted 19 guided tours, and logged over 3,000 volunteer hours. As you know, we could not make it without our volunteers!
In addition to being the biggest fundraising year ever, we continued to hold our annual events. I would like to share just a few.
In March we had our annual “Women’s History Program”, and this year we honored our women Veterans of Desert Storm-Desert Shield. We were happy to have Capt. Rebecca Burney as our guest of honor.
In April, we had the pleasure of having our very own Jason Sanders play at Coffee Call. SFC Sanders is a member of the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” We had a great turn out at our annual fish fry, also held in April.
In May, we hosted the annual Memorial Day Program with guest speaker LTG Larry Wyche, Deputy Commanding General of the US AMC and Senior Commander of Redstone Arsenal making a very moving presentation. AMCs Yellahammer Brass quintet provided the music.
July brought us our 4th annual Sam Gibbons Walking Horse show. Ken Wilson always does an outstanding job getting this event together. We also had Ron Pettus and his wonderful flag display at the museum.
In September we hosted the first Travis Manion Heroes Run. This was not only a first for the museum, but the first one held in Alabama with over 248 runners registering. “Thank You” goes out to Whitney Hollingsworth for organizing this event. Also in September, we held our first “Militaria Show” with over 50 vendors coming out to show and sell their military memorabilia, and over 200 visitors attending.
In November, the "Governor’s Own, 151st Alabama National Guard Band" performed an outstanding concert at the museum, we celebrated Veterans Day, and a job fair workshop was put on by Job Core of Decatur. Also in September, we were provided a unique challenge. Wayne and Sharon Gey offered to match donations received up to $100,000, and we are still working on this!
December brought us the largest single fundraiser the museum has ever had with our unveiling of the “Threads of Honor” quilt. We cannot thank Marlene and Wes Isom enough for honoring the museum. We would also like to thank the ladies who were instrumental in putting the quilt together. The design for this quilt by Chuck and Dianne Craig was based on the original 1919 quilt per Marlene's request. All of the names were hand written and hand embroidered by the following women: Snow Howard, Skipper Carter Breeding, Joy Bailey Brewer, Lou Ann Green Schrimsher, Sharon Swann Griffis, Yvonne Hebert Dempsey, Gertrude Young, Jean Moore, Heather Currah Miller, Patsy Abernathy, JoAnne Miller, Brenda Miller, Mary Alice Blizzard, Bailey Isom, and Marlene Isom. There are 656 names on the quilt and a total of $40,260 was raised for the museum. Also in December, we received an outstanding donation of vintage military toys for our gift shop, so if you are looking for a last minute gift for the military collector, stop by. We have everything from GI Joes to Abrams Tanks!
Once again, thank you for another outstanding year!!! We could not do it without you!
By: Sandra Thompson, Director, Alabama Veterans' Museum