By CLINT FOSTER
For anyone who might not know what the big, green Bell UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopter on the eastern edge of Mineral Wells is all about, there is now some new signage to let passersby know.
The National Vietnam War Museum received a new sign for the northwest end of its property on Sept. 19. The sign, which was donated and installed by the Arlington-based Intaglio Composites, sits on the side of U.S. Highway 180 to attract more visitors and is easily visible in the eastbound lane of traffic.
Museum Treasurer Jim Messinger said the sign fills a need for the museum that was not previously met.
“We need signage to attract people to the museum and let them know that it’s there,” he said. “We haven’t been doing a very good job of that with our signage. Intaglio is one of those people that understands the
sign business and that’s what they’re helping us out with now.”
Messinger said Intaglio approached the museum looking for needs to fill. It just so happened that one of the museum’s biggest needs was also Intaglio’s area of expertise. Museum Board Director Wayne Sanderson said Intaglio has already made multiple signs on the property and has plans to do more in the near future.
The museum currently offers a visitors center, with historical artifacts, and memorial gardens, including a half-sized replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. Messinger said that besides the one in the nation’s capitol, the museum’s memorial is the most accurate and up-to-date in the U.S. He added that the wall is the museum’s most important aspect right now.
“[The wall] provides a place of healing for people who can’t make it to Washington, D.C., for whatever reason,” he explained.
A memorial garden honoring the Marine Corps is under construction and plans are in place to build a Navy garden with a memorial to soldiers that died on the USS Frank Evans – a destroyer that collided with an Australian aircraft carrier, killing about 75 Americans – as its focal point.
Messinger explained the biggest plan for a main museum building, complete with 11 detailed exhibits about the war, has yet to get underway because of a lack of funding. The museum board is also searching for a volunteer curator who can be in charge of the new museum and make the exhibits as good as possible, he added.
As the longest war in American history, Messinger said the conflict in Vietnam is important to learn about and understand.
“It’s perhaps the most divisive war in our country’s history; shouldn’t we try to understand it?” he asked, rhetorically. “It’s unusual. It’s special.
It’s also the first war that was blamed on the soldier, as far as I can tell. The museum needs to get that story told.”
To donate to the museum and help make sure it is able to tell the story of the war in Vietnam, either visit the website at www.nationalvnwarmuseum.org or send donations to P.O. Box 146, in Mineral Wells.
Messinger said commemorative bricks are available for $100 and museum “founders,” those who donate more than $1,000, will have their names displayed inside the new museum when it is built.
Messinger added the museum is also always looking for more help for their all-volunteer workforce.