Maryland Veteran’s Museum leads state historic tour
The Maryland Veteran’s Museum has come a long way, said Abe Kennedy, a historian and volunteer exhibit attendant at the Newburg museum.
From opening up as a fledgling museum in 2013 in a more than $200,000 deficit to being one of the leading tourist attractions in Charles County, Kennedy said, the museum could not have come further.
The state’s House and Garden Pilgrimage tours kicked off on April 30 and Charles County was the last stop on Memorial Day weekend. The museum was selected because of its commemorative displays of the War of 1812, the recently added Civil War exhibit and many other exhibits including the Vietnam War.
“I’d like to think of us as the attic of Southern Maryland,” Kennedy said on Saturday during the tour. “We have so much history here and there’s so much history. We just want to keep it all. This is how the Smithsonian started.”
Bob Borrell, a fellow volunteer museum attendant with Kennedy, said he agrees on the “attic” concept of the museum. The goal is to preserve not only the county’s history, he said, but American history as well.
Kennedy, who served for 22 years in the United States Air Force, said the history of the military is something that is often forgotten about. Not intentionally, he said, but it is. And working to preserve it is important for moving into the future.
The significance of Memorial Day is for the soldiers who have gone to war for their loved ones back at home, Kennedy said. Not only have some returned home injured, he said, but some have also lost their lives.
Being able to make sure the history is preserved is an honor, Kennedy said.
“I like to put faces to words,” he said.
There are things people just would never know without stories being passed along, Kennedy said.
For example, he said, most people do not know that American flags are used at military burial services because it became a tradition after the Civil War when 630,000 casualties from the war resulted in a shortage of caskets.
“They put flags over them until they got to the grave site and buried the man with the flag over him,” Kennedy said.
Larry Abell, the president of the Maryland Veteran’s Museum, said it is an honor to be the head of the veteran’s museum where so much history is preserved and is on display to the public, especially with it being part of the garden and pilgrimage tour.
Abell said Kennedy, and the other volunteers, are “the best of the best,” and the museum has been as successful as it has because of them.
But Kennedy, Abell said, knows everything about everything in the museum.
“He’s the best,” Abell said. “He’s the best guy we’ve got. When he’s leading you around, he’s the best. He knows everything. His is one brain.”
Kennedy said it is not just him, but the rest of the small staff the museum has that turns it into the “special” place it is today. They also get help from around the county for some exhibits, including some help from school children on certain exhibits.
The museum is continuing to grow, Kennedy said, and the exhibits will continue to expand. Now, currently, the museum is looking for non-white American historical artifacts and stories to preserve African American history in the museum.
Hopefully, Kennedy said, the museum continues to grow in the same ways.