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Henry moves Veterans Historical Museum

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

A curious two-year-old, Clay Harris, tugged at his mother in the Veterans Historical Museum, as they viewed items hailing from different eras of United States military history.

"I like it," said his mother, Jonna Harris, in her son's pull. "It shows the kids the old uniforms."

Harris said her son was somewhat familiar with the military garb, adorning the museum's display cases, as her father Melvin Clay, served in the Vietnam War.

She said that her husband of 15 years, Billy Harris, served four years of active military duty in Operation Southern Watch.

The mother and son recently paid a visit to the museum, which is newly moved from its former location, at Nash Farm Battlefield Park in Hampton, to Heritage Park in McDonough.

The move, which took five days, included roughly 600 pieces of donated, and loaned military artifacts, dating back to World War I, according to Tim Coley, director of the Henry County Parks and Recreation Department.

Coley said the museum was moved in order to provide residents and visitors a central location to learn about, and honor military veterans, past and present, at a central location. He noted visitors to Heritage Park can pay tribute to service men and women at the park's Veterans Wall of Honor, and learn about military history at the park's Veterans Historical Museum, at Heritage Village inside the red barn.

"It's located so all the people in Henry County can come and visit," said Jim Joyce, facility coordinator for the Henry County Parks and Recreation Department. "This is military heritage."

Joyce surveyed the museum floor and singled out one uniform on display. He said the uniform -- complete with about eight pounds of gear, and missing its regulation pistol -- was that of a tank platoon sergeant, with the First Calvary Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

The 59-year-old recalled he wore that uniform nearly 20 years ago, in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, during the Gulf War. He is a 24-year U.S. Army veteran, who served in the Vietnam War and during Desert Storm.

"The stress of combat, I think it increases with the length of time you spend in operations," Joyce said. "The military is an ever-evolving part of America. It's always evolving for the better."

The museum, located at 101 Lake Dow Road in McDonough, is expected to be open in time for Thursday's Veterans Day Services at the Veterans Wall of Honor. Museum hours, however, have not been set.

"To be able to experience the museum, and the Wall [Veterans Wall of Honor], we think it's very important that they are in such proximity," said Joyce.

To learn more, visit the Henry County Parks and Recreation web site at www.co.henry.ga.us/parksrecreation.