Military history museum a year-round memorial to veterans

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A Memorial Day visit to the Miami Valley Military History Museum will honor those who served the nation.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Miami Valley Military Museum is open on Memorial Day

A Memorial Day visit to the Miami Valley Military History Museum will honor those who served the nation.

The historical archive opened in 2007 in the 1880 Putnam Thomas Library building located on the Dayton VA Medical Center campus.

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Images of World War I can be seen through a stereopticon at the Miami Valley Military History Museum. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Images of World War I can be seen through a stereopticon at the Miami Valley Military History Museum. LISA POWELL / STAFF

The first floor of the historic building is filled with several thousand objects spanning from 1775 to the present said Mark Conrad, the volunteer museum curator who keeps the military history alive with his wife, Catherine Beers-Conrad.

“The museum is proof that freedom is not free,” said Beers-Conrad. “Our world would be so different if it were not for everyone who has defended this country.”

Organized by chronological order, the relics transport visitors back in time.

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Display cases are filled with military artifacts including uniform buttons worn during the American Revolution, a bullet embedded in a piece of tree recovered from Gettysburg and silk handkerchiefs mailed as keepsakes from home during World War I.

“What you see out here is just a fraction of what we have. We could do this ten times over and not run out of artifacts,” said Conrad.

A piece of the battleship USS Arizona, historic photographs, a German steel helmet called a ‘Stahlhelm’ and a coconut, mailed to Ohio from the Pacific Theater during World War II, are part of the comprehensive collection.

A bullet, embedded in a tree and recovered from a quarry near Gettysburg, is on display at the Miami Valley Military History Museum. LISA POWELL / STAFF
A bullet, embedded in a tree and recovered from a quarry near Gettysburg, is on display at the Miami Valley Military History Museum. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Recently a box arrived at the museum with a uniform tucked inside worn by a man from Pennsylvania during the Normandy invasion, adding to the ever-growing acquisition.

“We literally get something from around the country every week,” said Conrad. “Sometimes it shows up in the mail but a lot of it walks in the door.”

Catherine Beers-Conrad and her husband Mark Conrad, volunteer their time to run the Maimi Valley Military Museum located on the Dayton VA Medical Center campus. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Catherine Beers-Conrad and her husband Mark Conrad, volunteer their time to run the Maimi Valley Military Museum located on the Dayton VA Medical Center campus. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Pinned to the dozens of military uniforms on display are a photograph and biography of the person who wore it. “For me that makes it more personal because I actually get to meet this person not just look at a uniform,” said Beers-Conrad.

The military museum is significant today because it is a reminder that our freedom “has been paid for not only by our patriot forefathers, but common ordinary people who did extraordinary things,” said Conrad.

“People will reflect that they’re free and they can talk about anything they want, and complain about anything they want only because people have shed their blood for them to be able to do it.”

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WANT TO GO?

What: Miami Valley Military History Museum

Where: Building 120 on the Dayton VA Medical Center campus, 120 Ohio Ave. Dayton, Ohio

Hours: Open on Memorial Day and all patriotic holidays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the first and third Saturdays of each month.

Admission: Free

More information: If you would like to donate artifacts to help preserve and honor veterans history stop by the museum or e-mail curator@mvmhm.com.