“The American Flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each Patriotic Warrior who died protecting it.” With these memorable lines etched on the stone as one enters the Oregon Coast Military Museum, the patriotic feeling is overwhelming. This July 4th, the coastal city of Florence Oregon, celebrated the Independence day of the oldest democracy in the world, like it was 1776. It was a euphoric annual recognition and celebration of the United States Declaration of Independence from the tyrannical rule under King George III of Great Britain in the year 1776.
Following up on the efforts of rebounding from the lows of the recession that hit in 2008, the city of Florence looks determined to break away from slow growth and lack of job creation. The city council has recently decided to shun its austerity measures and focus its attention on the economic and cultural development of the city of Florence. Many residents of Florence took it upon themselves to make their dream of having the city’s very own military museum, a reality. It must be mentioned that Florence Oregon is a strategically very important and a historic city, given its location on the west coast due to which the city’s air strip was used by the U.S. military during World War 2.
This July 4th, the city of Florence celebrated like it was 1776, by infusing the highs and lows that the United States has gone through as a country since its independence. Tim Sapp, President of TR Hunter, a firm which specializes in Real Estate in Florence Oregon and other coastal cities on the Oregon Coast including Reedsport, Deadwood, Mapleton, Swisshome and Yachats, is one of the people who worked together with other individuals for the opening of the museum. Sapp said that the Oregon Coast Military Museum has been a result of seven years of intense efforts put in by a group of like-minded individuals who had to endure lots of difficulties while working towards their dream museum. This included the economic recession which hit local businesses and lives of people in Florence as well as across the country.
The team includes: (from L to R) Don Drodenko – Board Member, Judy Murphy – Chief Of Staff, Wayne Sharpe – Board Member, Sue Earlday – Board Member, Gene Wobbe – Board Member, and Tim Sapp – Board Member. One of the best aspects about the Oregon Coast Military Museum is that many war veterans would be volunteering for helping in the functioning of the museum. Apart from that, non-veterans have also been urged to help with the functioning of the museum as per their comfort.
“The majestic symbol, the flag of the United States, is placed here to honor all of the service men and women who have sacrificed helping to make America a standard of freedom to the world.” As etched on another stone at the museum, the place is worth a visit for people from all age groups. Many photos, medals, military equipment, memorabilia and war memoirs have been showcased at the museum with many more expected in the forthcoming weeks. These include letters and relics from the World War 1 and 2, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq War and the U.S. military efforts in countries across the World.
A vast array of vintage guns as well as other arms and ammunitions used during these wars including weapons used presently, have been displayed for one to soak in a rare display of the lives of the U.S. troops and all military personnel. The Blood Chits of the China-Burma-India Theater from the war in The Far East has also been showcased at the Oregon Coast Military Museum. The rescue flags which were used back then read, “This foreign person has come to China to help in the war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue, protect, and provide him with medical care.” The interiors of the museum are beautifully and thematically designed and certainly enhance a visitor’s experience.
Along with the inauguration of the military museum, ‘Wings and Wheels’ show was also organized. This included a breathtaking air show at the adjoining Florence Municipal Airport. With pilots exhibiting gravity-defying acrobatics in airplanes and the latest emerging sport of radio controlled model aeronautics, the seventh annual air show in the city of Florence was immensely entertaining. A vintage car exhibition displaying many historic brands was also organized as part of the show and was a feast for the eyes.
Along with these shows, an exhibition of military machines and vehicles was organized by Oregon Coast Military Vehicles Group. Many war Veterans were present and one had the opportunity to speak to them about their experiences and thank them for their services for the United States. Veterans Ex-Quartermaster James Swant and Ex U.S. Army Dana Foley spoke about their postings, while Sean R. Connor, also a Veteran and Ex-U.S. Army, shared a bit about his experiences from his four tours to Vietnam. Thus, the city of Florence celebrated July 4th like it was 1776 by reliving the struggles, victories, sacrifices and accomplishments that the United States has experienced since its independence.
By Ankur Sinha
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