This is our first newsletter for 2020, and we have exciting things to share with you. First and foremost, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. I remember my mother, Rosemary Chennault Simrall, telling me about a dedicated group of people in the Monroe area who wanted to start a museum that celebrated the rich heritage that we have in Northeast Louisiana. They contacted her to see if she would consider having a room honoring the legacy of her father, General Claire Chennault, and of course she contact me to enlist my help.
Sadly, we have lost many of those who, through blood, sweat, and tears, worked tirelessly to build a museum that showcased the sacrifices and service of our men and women in uniform. There is not enough room to talk about the obstacles that they had to overcome, to not only preserve a building that was destined to be condemned but also collect the treasures and memorabilia that we now have on display. There are only a handful of people still around that can take pride in their accomplishments and know that through their sacrifice, dedication, and hard work the Museum now attracts thousands of visitors, both nationally and internationally, and is a top-rated attraction for the state on TripAdvisor.
“More Than A Museum” is our catchphrase for this new decade. Over the past several years, we have worked hard to establish veterans’ programs. In 2009, we established a relationship with the Library of Congress (LOB) in Washington to work with their Veteran’s Oral History project. We have videotaped many WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and current war veterans. These have all become part of the LOB database. The General Chennault Chapter 51 of the Disabled American Veterans Association was chartered in 2014. Since then, our service officers have obtained over two million dollars worth of additional benefits for local veterans. Dr. Mitch Young moved his PTSD clinics to the Museum in 2014, and they hold meetings twice a month for combat veterans.
We are proud of our accomplishments over the last 20 years, but I believe the best is yet to be. We are only able to do this because of committed patriotic people who understand the importance of preserving history and honoring the men and women who have served and are still serving in our military. Our members realize the importance of giving to our military men and women and in some small way saying thank you.