Veterans Museum Honors the Past and Present
Henry County is rich in history and prides itself on its deep tradition of honoring its military and the Heritage Park Veterans Museum is a wonderful way to pay tribute as well as educate the public on the history and sacrifices made by our country’s veterans.
Begun as a small collection of military memorabilia and uniforms, the Veterans Museum originally encompassed two rooms at Nash Farm Park. It moved to its permanent home at Heritage Park nearly two years ago, taking over the Red Barn, and since that time has added exponentially to its collection.
The Heritage Park Veterans Museum is a treasure trove of historical military memorabilia. On display are various uniforms, medals, vehicles, arms, books, photos and other artifacts, dating from World War I up through present times. The museum is continually being updated and renovated and it was late last year, the museum added a library and reading room, built by a local Eagle Scout with display cases and woodwork made by volunteers. The library features dozens of handmade dioramas depicting various scenes of World War II, displayed in cases with authentic, corresponding front pages from the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The library also houses hundreds of books and periodicals, recently catalogued by volunteers.
Jim Joyce, Facilities Coordinator with the Henry County Parks and Recreation Department, runs the museum, and as the only employee, he has come to rely on a small army of dedicated veterans who volunteer their time to make the museum a success. Volunteers do everything from organizing the donations, creating and rotating displays, refurbishing rooms and hosting visitors
“The volunteers for this museum come from every branch of service with a total of eight combat tours from Vietnam to present,” said Joyce, who is a veteran of both Vietnam and Desert Storm. “So they understand each piece that is in here, the history behind each piece and are able to convey that to whoever comes through the door, whether they are veterans or family members of students at one of the local schools. The other thing about having a volunteer force is there is no cost, which helps this museum to run on a very low dollar output but as you can see, everything in here is of high-dollar quality.”
With nine dedicated volunteers, each has his own reason for working at the museum. Darrell Woodall, a Vietnam Veteran, has been volunteering at the museum for the past year.
“I started doing this a year ago, and it means so much to me, because, being a Vietnam Veteran, I always wanted to be around other veterans who felt like I did and had similar experiences,” said Woodall. “I came here to visit and saw that there was this wonderful camaraderie.”
According to Joyce, all of the items displayed in the museum have been generously donated, and they tell the tale of our military’s history, many with personal stories of individual soldiers, some who paid the ultimate price for freedom.
More importantly, the museum is a tribute to United States Veterans for the sacrifices they made and serves as a fascinating history exhibit for the community and beyond, bridging generations. Visitors come from all over the metro area and the museum is more than willing to host schools or organizations, all free of charge.
The Heritage Park Veterans Museum is located at 101 Lake Dow Rd. in McDonough. The museum is free and open to the public, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. It is also located just a short distance from the Veterans Wall of Honor. For more information, call the Henry County Parks and Recreation Department at 770.288.7300.