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Honoring Ward County veterans

Exhibit at Pioneer Village showcases military history

Andrea Johnson/MDN

The Ward County Historical Society has a treasure trove of memorabilia from war veterans but does not have room to put all the materials on display.

Now more people will have an opportunity to explore the county’s rich history of military service thanks to a new military exhibit that has been assembled by historical society member and U.S. Army veteran Steve Veikley.

The exhibit includes old photos, historical documents, mannequins in military costume and stories about the military service of citizens of Ward County, some of whom paid the ultimate price for the country’s freedom.

“Here’s a list of Ward County people – 73 were killed (from) Ward County,” Veikley commented last month as he showed off one display dedicated to World War I veterans.

He said he is afraid that the history of their service could be forgotten. Veikley lamented a lost opportunity on Armistice Day in 2018 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Andrea Johnson/MDN Steve Veikley, a member of the Ward County Historical Society, shows off the military exhibit at the Pioneer Village Museum last month in Burlington.

There is a World War I monument at Rosehill Memorial Park that would have been nice to use for a ceremony, he said.

“I always thought, ‘Why don’t you use this?'” said Veikley. “On November 11, there should have been a little ceremony over there. I’d have gone over and dressed in one of these uniforms that still would have fit me and played Taps for those guys.”

Veikley, a bugler, has performed Taps at past ceremonies at Rosehill Memorial Park in honor of military veterans who were laid to rest there.

But there will be many other opportunities for people in the area to honor those who served, as the exhibit Veikley has spent many hours of research to assemble at the museum has done.

Veikley said he believes people have respect for military service that will increase interest in the military exhibit. He dedicated many hours to assembling the attractive displays that help better tell the forgotten or untold stories of Ward County’s military veterans.

There is more yet to be explored.

For more information about how to volunteer with the historical society or to schedule a special tour of the military exhibit this winter, call the museum, or contact the historical society via its Facebook page.

The museum is also raising funds to complete handicapped-accessible sidewalks to all of the buildings at the museum at Burlington.

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