January 27, 2011 at 12:37 AM CST - Updated August 22 at 6:21 AM
The southwest Louisiana town of Abbeville is creating a museum that honors everyone from Louisiana who has served in the Military. The museum has a "hall of fame" that tells the stories of Louisiana's "medal of honor."
The stories tell of heroism and valor that go far beyond the call of duty. Louisiana is honoring its Medal of Honor recipients, thanking their families, and memorializing their courageous deeds.
It's an ambitious project that's located at the airport in the southwest Louisiana town of Abbeville. Phase one is open and fundraising is underway for an impressive structure that aims to tell the story of every Louisiana veteran.
"Our veterans make huge sacrifices and I would like for the kids who visit this museum to learn about that and appreciate it on a human level...that they get to know these guys through oral histories or text panels for videos and say now I understand," says Museum Director Paul Finley.
The hallway contains a plaque honoring each of the 14 Medal of Honor recipients from Louisiana. Visitors need to take time to read each of them to understand why these servicemen have been honored.
Paul Showalter's uncle is one of those Medal of Honor recipients. In the Korean War, Lt. Edward Schowalter was wounded several times as he let his platoon against an enemy stronghold. Despite his own critical injuries, Schowalter continued to lead his men in routing the enemy.
"The principals, duty, honor and country. And my Uncle was definitely a very principled man and was not shy about sharing his principals," said Showalter.
Today, the museum has a collection of artifacts from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. But the mission is to collect the stories, the oral histories of veterans, where they tell in their own words of their experiences in the military.
"They get up from giving that oral history. They've never talked about their service in Vietnam before and it's like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. It's visibly noticeable that they have unburdened themselves," said Finley.
They are stories worth hearing from Louisiana veterans who were called to serve their country and who performed their duty with bravery and honor.
The museum is located at the airport in Abbeville and is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 10am-4pm.