Mary­land Vet­eran’s Mu­seum leads state his­toric tour

Maryland Independent - - News - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­ Twit­ter: @SykesIndyNews

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.

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