AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Next year, the Texas Panhandle War Memorial will be celebrating 30 years of honoring veterans who served in the armed forces.
“I don’t think a day’s gone by that I don’t see one or two people out in the park looking at names or there are some privately funded plaques to family members out there. I think it is time for some of those veterans to think about their experience in war, perhaps some friends that they lost or some events that they were involved in the war and hopefully, they get a sense of healing out there,” said Dr. Perry Gilmore, executive director of the Texas Panhandle War Memorial.
Over the course of three decades, the Texas Panhandle War Memorial has become a place where both veterans and people of the High Plains can go to pay tribute to those who have given their time and life to preserve the American way of life.
The current day war memorial started as an idea in 1992 and would expand slowly into what it is today with the war memorial center featuring a 15,000 square foot building with an education center, the only military chapel in the panhandle, and a small military artifacts museum.
Dr. Gilmore said when people come out to the memorial they are impressed.
“They say they learned a little bit about history but enjoyed seeing the artifacts and reading about them,” said Dr. Gilmore.
Some of the items that can be seen in the museum at the war memorial include various items from uniforms from several different wars, a wall of local Medal of Honor recipients, and a 1954 Willys Jeep.
“I’ve talked to a lot of veterans who have remembered driving similar jeeps in Vietnam and earlier versions were in World War II and Korea and they have been phased out by modern technology, but you can tell by the grill and everything, this is where the jeeps we see today kind of have their heritage,” said Dr. Gilmore.
Dr. Gilmore said all the artifacts are donated by veterans or families of veterans. He added they are always looking for items to add to the memorial.
“Any artifacts from any of these wars are interesting and we sure would like the opportunity to learn about that and talk to the person that would like to donate that and see if that kind of fits in,” said Dr. Gilmore.
Located in the war memorial is an interactive education center where people and students can test their knowledge on particular wars.
Dr. Gilmore said he hopes when the public comes in and sees the exhibits they get a greater appreciation for the sacrifices our veterans have made.
“We hope that what kids or any visitor here walks away with is a couple of things is a better understanding of history, but also a real appreciation for what veterans have gone through. And that they will have a greater appreciation for veterans they see and active duty military knowing they are willing to put their life on the line but also undergo a lot of hardships in war,” said Dr. Gilmore.
Dr. Gilmore added they would like local schools to take field trips to the museum and learn history first hand.