Elmwood, Neb., American Legion Post 247 had a twofold dream: of preserving a Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Hall and creating a museum to help preserve the military history of the hundreds of local veterans. A G.A.R. post with 16 charter members had been established here in 1882 and the hall built in 1886. It is now one of the four remaining G.A.R. halls in Nebraska from more than 100 at one time - making the preservation of the building important historically.
Teaming together with the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) students at Elmwood-Murdock High School, the first part of the dream was fulfilled as the hall was renovated in 2004 and made ready to serve as a museum.
The Elmwood G.A.R. Hall Veterans Museum was thus born – an empty building with an eight-foot table containing a few pictures which had hung in the hall before renovation. It took a couple of years to get display cabinets, but then items for display started arriving – pictures, uniforms, medals, etc. As word of the museum spread, and more people stopped in to see it, more display items arrived. The museum is now filled with items from the Civil War, a World War I uniform, many items from our World War II veterans, Vietnam veterans, and up to and including pictures of our young men and women who are currently serving their country.
The museum is operated entirely by donations and Legion volunteers. We have been blessed with several grants to help with new siding, solar shades, marketing, new furnace, and most recently to purchase a computer and a
museum software tracking program to document and track each item we have on display.
The museum also has a Facebook page (http://tinyurl.com/pmc2nn9) where we share the service of our veterans and “Letters from our Boys in the Service” – letters from our boys published in the local newspaper during World War II.
The Elmwood G.A.R. Hall Veterans Museum truly has been a dream come true for our Legion post.
Bonnie Brewer, commander, American Legion Post 247