Several weeks ago a headline in this newspaper read, “City seeks help for ways to spend funds.” For some folks, this would be a humorous headline. After all, a government agency seeking advice on how to spend taxpayer money? The funds have been allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act and their actual purpose is to help the city recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The city seeks to gain input from residents and has even placed a small item in its utility mailer seeking spending ideas.
Separate from that bit of civic action, the Department of Veterans Services recently held symposiums in Las Vegas and in Northern Nevada. Since the state Legislature is scheduled to convene in 2023, the department was seeking ideas and issues to take under consideration to present to our elected officials so that they might pass veterans’ bills into law. Many ideas were presented and at the end of each session they were voted on. Some issues received a host of nays and many others received a host of yeas.
At one point I stepped up to the microphone in Las Vegas and presented my idea. I would like to see the formation of a Nevada Museum of Military and Veterans History. I suggested that the state hire an individual to begin the process of seeking grants and other sources of funding to lease or build a facility (or purchase an existing one) to house such a museum. That person would also begin collecting material for future exhibits.
As many readers know, our state motto is Battle Born, a Civil War homage to our agreeing to join the union as an anti-slave state. Nevada residents took part in World War I and World War II and Korea and Vietnam and the Middle East wars. We’re home to Nellis Air Force Base. The Silver State also is home to the Hawthorne Army Depot and Carson City is home to the Nevada Army and Air National Guard.
There are many other locations throughout the state that are directly or partially related to Nevada’s military history, and there are dozens of military and veteran highway markers, memorials and displays of our involvement in both combat and peacetime military events.
Across the nation, museums honoring military history seem to be proliferating, and existing ones expanding. A Medal of Honor museum is being planned in Texas, a National Vietnam War Museum is being planned, a memorial garden and warriors’ plaza is being developed at the National Museum of the U.S. Army in Virginia, the National World War II Museum is expanding in New Orleans, and even overseas U.S. military sacrifices are on display at the American Air Museum in Britain.
A Nevada museum could conceivably be located almost anywhere in the state. I’m sure that Reno would toss its hat in the ring, Henderson might want to give it a try and, of course, Las Vegas would be front and center. Done correctly and promoted as a positive tourist attraction, it would draw individuals from around the nation and the world.
I almost forget to mention that Boulder City might welcome such an attraction. We’re a strong veterans’ town, after all. So I’m making a pitch to the city fathers to meet with the proper state and county authorities to begin exploring the possibility of developing a Nevada Museum of Military and Veterans History right here in Boulder City. Since the city is asking for financial ideas, I suggest they use some of the Rescue Plan funds as seed money to get the ball rolling. I’m running it up the flagpole. Let’s see if they’ll salute.
Chuck N. Baker is an award-winning journalist and a Vietnam War Purple Heart veteran. He can be heard at 8:30 a.m. each Sunday on KKVV-AM hosting “That’s America to Me” and occasionally on KUNV-FM hosting “America’s Veterans, Today and Tomorrow.”