The Veterans Day exhibit's grand opening is today, with the showcase running through Dec. 2 at the Elk County Historical Society's Robinson Museum along Center Street in Ridgway.
For Mary Kalinowski, executive director of the Elk County Historical Society, the exhibit was a way to recognize the area's veterans and display local memorabilia.
"We decided to do a Veterans Day exhibit to honor all of our veterans for all that they've done for us, and for our freedom," Kalinowski said. "We have so much stuff now and it's to the point where we hope to do this every year, and rotate out a lot of stuff from a lot of different people."
To meet patrons when they stroll inside the Robinson Museum is a display case paying homage to Paul H. Speer.
"The airplane here is a model of the one he flew when he shot down a plane in Vietnam as part of an exhibit on him," Kalinowski said.
The airplane is a replica of the F8-E Crusader that Commander Speer was flying when he downed a MIG-17 over Vietnam on May 19, 1967. He was flying with the Flying Checkmates of the U.S. aircraft carrier Bon Homme Richard. Commander Speer went on to an outstanding career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a rear admiral. This replica is dedicated to Commander Speer for his honor and valor by James E. Johnson, friend and classmate, Ridgway Area High School Class of 1946.
Another bright spot showcasing the Society's impressive collection is various uniforms lining the walls.
"We have an awful lot of uniforms, both in the basement and in the house [Center Street museum], and we're trying to move them all over to the house, we're just trying to make the room for it right now and that's a work in progress and getting the volunteers to be able to do that," Kalinowski said. "People do enjoy looking at all the different uniforms and we're lucky to have a lot of them. It's interesting to see the different styles of the men and women in different branches of the service.
"We have a flag for Ralph States, he was originally reported missing in action, and then he was killed in action, and this is the flag draped over his casket. We decided to put it with the uniforms that we have on display."
The grand opening is today from 1-4 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is a bookstore special with 50 percent off all military books for Friday and Saturday.
"We hope people will come out and enjoy this, and we will have the exhibit up for the rest of November until we close," Kalinowski said.
Museum hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Friday from 1-4 p.m.
Pick up a copy of the Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.