Historical Society salutes Armed Forces — all year round

Historical Society salutes Armed  Forces — all year roundBy DIANA REGIER, News Review Staff Writer

As the eyes of the nation turn toward the uniformed men and women who serve our country during tomorrow’s observance of Armed Forces Day, the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert offers residents a way to honor those contributions on the appointed day and throughout the year.

In honor of our military — retired and active-duty — HSUMD acquired in 2010 the original Isabella Schoolhouse, established in 1905, and converted it to the Veterans Memorial Building.

“The Veterans Memorial is specifically to honor men and women of Ridgecrest and the region who have served in the armed forces,” said Carol Porter of HSUMD.

The local treasure is tucked just north and east of the Historic USO Building, located at 230 W. Ridgecrest Blvd. The VMB underwent a major repair and restoration effort to its original state, minus the bell cupola. The memorial uniquely focuses on displaying and archiving the service and stories of our local veterans.

“Seeing the displays of people I know is so nice; it provided a connection to the people and that time in life,” said longtime resident Marcene Roberts.

The public can visit the memorial and view displays of pictures, citations, records of enlistment and other memorabilia that have been contributed by locals and their family members. All the services are represented in the memorial by the flags of each service.

Harold Roberts visited the Veterans Memorial Building when it opened and then returned to visit last week and was pleased that there were more items on display. “There has been a big improvement, and it makes an impression,” he remarked.

A new addition to the memorial is a collection of uniforms, all worn by local residents during their time in service. Kenny Keeling, upon seeing the display, exclaimed, “That looks just like the uniform I wore.” Veterans and civilians visiting the building can all appreciate our servicemembers, both active duty and veterans when looking at the uniform display.

After being relocated from the Kern River Valley, the building was moved to Hellmers Park near City Hall, where it housed instructional and recreational programs for local youth for decades. When the Historical Society discovered the building was scheduled for demolition, HSUMD members championed its preservation and ultimately repurposed it as a tribute to the rich history of patriotism and connection between Ridgecrest citizens and the military.

To find out more about the Veterans Memorial Building or to obtain hours, visit hsumd.org or call 760-375-8456.

The third Saturday in May is set aside each year for the observance of Armed Forces Day.

“The importance of this day should always be evident. It is a day that our military members rightly deserve, and it’s essential that we celebrate it accordingly,” states the original proclamation.

According to afd.defense.gov, “The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.”

Under President Harry S Truman, a day to pay tribute to all the men and women of the Armed Forces was established — a day all when Americans can unite to honor our military for their service.

Courageous, Steadfast, Protectors” is the theme for Armed Forces Day 2017.

Previous themes have been “Appreciation of a Nation,” “Arsenal of Freedom,” “Guardians of Peace,” “Liberty” and “Patriotism” along with many others along these same lines.

Historically, each of the services had a day set aside to honor its forces, beginning with the Marine Corps celebrating its birth on July 11, 1799.

The uniting of all the services under the Department of Defense in 1949 led to the establishment of Armed Forces Day on Aug. 31, 1949 by Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson.

The day honors everyone serving in all branches of the U.S. military — Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy.

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy, declared Armed Forces Day a national holiday, though interestingly not a federal holiday. In 1999 Congress designated May as National Military Appreciation Month.

Military Spouse Appreciation Day, the second Friday of May, just before Mother’s Day, is included in this month of appreciation for our United States military. This is a day to acknowledge the contributions, support, and sacrifices of spouses of the Armed Forces.

Memorial Day concludes the monthlong celebration of appreciation of our nation’s heroes and is traditionally a time for remembering those who died while in our country’s Armed Forces.

Americans observe and celebrate Armed Forces Day in a variety of ways — from holding parades and receptions to wearing patriotic colors to flying the American flag.

Other activities include visiting military installations, taking some timet to talk to or visit with a military member or veteran or sending care packages for those serving overseas.

Pictured: John Abbott, facility manager of the Historic USO?Building (and veteran) gives veteran Larry Parcher a tour of the Veterans Memorial Building. -- Photo By Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-05-19