Grout Museum likely to get funding for veterans project

Interactive exhibit on Iowa Guard, Reserve role in Iraq, Afghanistan set to open this spring

James Q. Lynch
Published: February 12 2014 | 12:24 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:32 am in

A key lawmaker said Wednesday Grout Museum is likely to get the $500,000 it is seeking for its Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Project.

Museum officials on Wednesday updated the House-Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitols Appropriations Subcommittee on their plans, including an interactive exhibition opening this spring chronicling the participation of the Iowa National Guard and Reserve in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The museum also is participating in the national Vietnam War Commemoration Project that will open in 2015, according to Billie Bailey, the museum’s executive director. The museum’s original exhibit will feature the experiences of Iowans in the Vietnam War, including pictures of the more than 800 Iowans killed in that war.

The exhibit will include what historian Bob Neymeyer called a “virtual wall” honoring those killed. The museum also will have a kiosk that it can display at libraries and schools.

Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, said he believes the project has the support of the committee and he will recommend including it in the committee’s budget.

Bailey told the committee the museum has collected oral histories from more than 1,500 veterans in 70 counties from the World War II era to present day. They will be used in exhibits and educational programs, she said, and already are being used by high school and college students doing research.

Neymeyer said the museum has done about 300 interviews with Vietnam era veterans.

Tom Brickman of Janesville has collected photos of all but 23 of the Iowans killed in the Vietnam War.

“As a Vietnam veteran, this is the least I can do for the families of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” he told lawmakers. “My goal is that if they can’t go to Washington to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, they can go to the Grout where they can see exhibit and photos.”

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