“Forgotten history is like a flame that is quickly put out once a drop of water hits it.” Such may be the case for the Wyoming National Guard Museum unless organizers can get the workers, funds, or publicity that is needed. This museum is essential in preserving our military history.
Here is just a bit of the history, from information I obtained by experiencing an almost two-hour tour given to me by museum assistant William H. Saunders Jr.
The building was constructed in 1929 to be used as a warehouse for military purposes. It currently has an added addition that was built around 1936-38. A difference can be seen when looking at the building from the outside. As time has gone on, the museum has been used in many ways. It has been an armory, a headquarters, and a storage unit. From mannequins, to posters, uniforms, pictures, and artifacts from the past wars, the museum is a living library of history. The purpose of the museum was to preserve the history of the Wyoming National Guard.
Currently, everyone working in the museum are volunteers, my brother being one of them. They don’t just use some of their time and money, but their lives are dedicated to this. These volunteers do many forms of research to be sure everything is historically accurate. Saunders, in particular, does the most work. His love for this project started when he was very young. He bears the title of a military brat, a child whose father or mother served in the military their whole lives and retired.
Many of the stories behind the pictures or the mannequins wearing the uniforms come from personal accounts. Each of the displays are carefully designed and many of them are originals from soldiers and their families. Some of the projects that the volunteers design is funded by donations, and as Saunders said, “We also get check donations that the Wyoming National Guard Historical Society (formerly the Wyoming Militia Historical Society) uses to support the museum.”
A recent bill passed by the Legislature and awaiting Gov. Mark Gordon’s signature will help the museum receive grants that are needed to use for projects and supplies by recognizing the museum as it should be rightly called, “a state museum.”
“State Legislature needs to provide funding to keep the museum open along with the strong support of the Wyoming Military Department and the Wyoming Veteran’s commission,” Saunders said. But, even with this bill, more funding is needed.
The volunteers have tried their best over the years to get the public to recognize and appreciate the history that the museum has to offer through many forms, like tours, parade entries, and word of mouth. If you are unfamiliar with the history of the Wyoming National Guard, I encourage you to do a tour.
But make sure you can spend several hours in a place that has history that can quickly dissipate unless people help to support it.