A jewel of Germantown is the Veterans Memorial Museum Foundation (VMMF).
Thousands of artifacts relating to 1,500 veterans from all American wars are housed in the two-story building, an old cigar factory bought by the free Masons in 1954. It was purchased in September 2009 for the nonprofit museum.
The wings of the museum cover the area of American Armed Forces Veterans Service from the Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terrorism. Their Mission statement is: The VMMF preserves the honor and sacrifice of America’s Armed Forces, from all eras, by telling their stories through their artifacts and oral traditions.
“We’re not a Germantown museum. We are regional. We want to be a geographical regional asset,” said David Shortt, curator and Army CWO retired.
The VMMF, 123 S. Main St., Germantown, contains thousands of personal items belonging to our armed forces veterans: letters, photos, documents, insignia, maps, uniforms and all manner of accouterments.
There is a library with 3,600 military history books, the Civil War roster and the World War I roster.
The Veterans are from all over the United States with an emphasis on Miami Valley veterans, including Dayton, Vandalia, Middletown, Farmersville, Franklin, Carlisle, Springboro, Centerville, Kettering, Oakwood, West Carrollton and many other localities.
“We want the public to remember the sacrifices of our forefathers and not to forget, we are the caretakers,” said Shortt of Germantown. “All the artifacts in the museum belong to the nation. We are active in quality education with local schools and universities.”
In 1992, Shortt’s interest peaked in collecting when he met a World War II veteran, John Robertson from Korea. Shortt was on a pass from Fort Knox, Ky., and being an avid historian, got involved with Robertson’s war stories. One weekend Robertson brought in a pillow case of memorabilia of souvenirs, uniforms, and letters from his mom. He went from Sicily to Berlin. Robertson, originally from Hamilton, said, “If you don’t want these, I’m going to throw them away.”
Once Shortt started reading the letters he realized this was an important part of history. Auctions and meeting war veterans and their families supplied more memorabilia.
Jeremy Bowles, one of several VMMF volunteers, said the museum’s collection is different from many. “We want more than a uniform. We want the story of who wore that uniform and what they did. We want what sacrifices they made and why they were in the military,” said Bowles.
Future fundraisers are for an elevator, the 19th century history room and the new heating and air elements.
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