The stories of service across all military branches are part of our nation’s legacy, passed down from generation to generation. Today we honor the hundreds of stories shared and preserved by the National Military Heritage Museum of St. Joseph, Mo.
Operated by the National Military Heritage Society, a non-profit organization, the Museum depicts these important stories in thousands of article clippings, books and videos related to the heritage of our U.S. military. Many are in the process of being cataloged by Missouri Western State University to increase accessibility and research. Across four buildings near downtown St. Joseph, members of the National Military Heritage Society have collected more than 20,000 artifacts, including military vehicles, uniforms and medals from all branches, combat equipment, models, and detailed dioramas that explain first-hand how battles and maneuvers were carried out across the decades. A helicopter, weapon carriers, an ambulance and water carrier vehicles along with several military trucks are also housed on the grounds.
Perhaps most important are the personal accounts of the veterans and volunteers who have helped keep the Museum’s doors open, even with challenging funding resources. Many times, visitors to the Museum can interact with veterans as they work on exhibits and promote the cause together. A group of “regular” volunteers, including men and women veterans, can be found almost daily at the Museum. Each veteran and volunteer can be considered part of the Library of Congress Oral History program’s “Leave a Legacy” Program, with the Museum being designated as one of the nation’s repositories for oral histories. Recently, a new exhibit was prepared to showcase officer uniforms and models of naval and tank battles, including artifacts spanning from World War I to the Iraq War. Area residents donated the items to the collection.
Originally designed as the first police station for St. Joseph, the impressive and architecturally-significant brick structure at 7th and Messanie was built in 1890 and served as a former U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Training Center following WWII. In 1950, the structure was used to activate marines to serve in Korea.
School groups and honorary events are held at the National Military Heritage Museum, as well as meetings from area service groups. In recent years, community interest and donations have become an even more critical endeavor to the Museum’s future, helping with everything from building maintenance, collections and more.
Today, SJC honors and recognizes the efforts of all Veterans and volunteers who are continuing to share their stories through the National Military History Museum, and the voices they provide to this critical element of American history through collections and service. Make plans to visit this local treasure with your family today.