FORT WAYNE, Ind. (FOX 55) - Tucked away into its own pocket of land on O'Day Road is the Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum. You might miss it if it weren't for the few signs along Bass Rd and US 30.
Paul Allen, who works with the Veterans National Memorial Shrine says if the US military has been involved, they're being honored at the site.
"We have monuments to all the wars and conflicts the United States has provided service to," Allen said.
Their top draw is one of 49 Merci Boxcars, a gift received from the French in 1949. People travel from all over the world to see the boxcar, which helps add value to the site.
Clarence Queen, Grand Chef de Gare with the 40 & 8, who are caretakers of the boxcar said "It has history to it. I mean this is a 100 year old organization that they sent this over here for and it just goes to show that 100 years ago, people thought about all of their veterans."
If you've even been to the shrine and museum after a hard rain, you'll know the ground swells with water that makes its way into the museum inside, causing significant damage to the floor, ceiling, and displays and making the site feel less valuable.
But something happened to get some repairs rolling.
Paul Allen said "luck of the draw, being at the right place at the right time."
Allen was able to get Lawnscape Site Development to come out and put all new drainage in the land and grade it towards the road. It was work they were proud to do according to Lee Keefer, the Superintendent of Lawnscape Site Development,
Keefer went on to explain, "later on I found out they didn't have no funding, it comes out of their pocket. When I moved the crew out there to do the job, inside me just said "go ahead and donate this to the vets who've served our business and our country.""
Then more businesses came together to help the fully volunteer funded and staffed memorial to American veterans.
An employee from the Strahm Group helped organize donations of all new flooring and ceiling tiles, as well as the labor to install. A company spokesperson said in part
"As a company we believe that it is our duty to help maintain buildings like this that represent such importance in our community."
Local UAW 2209 bought new display cases for the donated memorabilia. Peerless Cleaners volunteered to clean the uniforms. Other organizations helped donate labor to the cause.
The repairs are moving along, but the list of needs is long. The displays are expected to come out of storage for a grand reopening expected Memorial Day of 2019, but the site still needs your help says Allen.
"We have a shoestring budget, so we're asking for any and all donations. We're asking for volunteers and you don't have to ve a veteran to volunteer."
Find out how to help get in contact with the Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum. Information below
Facebook: Veteran's National Memorial Shrine
Address: 2122 O Day Rd. Fort Wayne, Indiana
Phone: (260) 267-5022
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