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The Oregon Coast Military Heritage Museum located in Florence Oregon

One in five people who live in Florence is a veteran of some type of military service. A newcomer to Florence is the Oregon Coast Military Heritage Museum

In the course of establishing a Veteran’s Day Parade, Cal Applebee realized that approximately 1,300 World War II veterans are dying each day, and that number does not include Korean War, Viet Nam War, Iraqi War or Afghan War veterans. He began wondering what would become of all the artifacts and mementos they left behind. Not only that, but their stories would be left untold. These musings inspired a group of local veterans to lay the groundwork for the museum. The fact that an astonishing 21% of the residents of Florence are veterans makes this the ideal location for the museum.

This dedicated group of volunteers is working hard to make their dream a reality. They have struggled to raise money (they are a 501C organization) for the construction of the museum, which will be located near the Florence airport. They are very frugal, getting materials and labor donated, and even getting the Oregon legislature to allocate $41,000, to help with fees, permits, and to bring electricity to the site. The land for the museum is being leased from the city of Florence. They have held several fundraising events, such as concerts by Pacific Coast Wind Ensemble, Remembrance Bricks purchased in memory of a veteran, and having people ‘buy’ parts of their building.

The two main goals of the museum are honoring veterans and educating the public. The group is not waiting for the official building to open; they are going ahead with achieving their goals. The Freedom Remembrance Wall and memorials to several solders are already in place. They have displays that include old rifles, posters, radio equipment, and authentic Nazi propaganda postcards with pictures of Hitler on them. The group is also attending events with vehicles and displays and trying to educate the general public.

Group members have been surprised by how little the youth at the events they have attended know about U.S. history and the military. They want young people to know about the sacrifices that have been made to make America what it is today. The volunteers feel that sharing the oral histories they are gathering with young people will help them understand their history better.

The group’s website at http://www.kilroycorps.com/ contains an enormous amount of information. The story about how the idea for the museum got started, a slide show of the dedication of Remembrance Wall, archives of all the group’s newsletters, and a collection of articles about the military, the involvement of the military in Oregon, and much, much more. You can learn a great deal by visiting the website. However, don’t wait for the building’s construction to be complete. You can visit the museum in its temporary house in an airplane hangar at the Florence Airport.

The construction of the buildings for the museum and gift shop is nearing completion. The Oregon Coast Military Heritage Museum is a reality.
Article written by Mary Boyer

For more information check out the Oregon Coast Military Heritage Museum site.

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