SCHERERVILLE — Today, the Tri-Town Safety Village honors veterans from all branches of the United States armed services at the grand opening of the Veterans Museum.
“The doors will open at noon, and we will have the ribbon-cutting promptly at 1 p.m.,” said Bill Jarvis, executive director of the Tri-Town Safety Village, 1350 Eagle Ridge Drive. “There will be tours of the Safety Village ahead of the grand opening.”
In the planning stage since 2015, the museum houses an array of artifacts collected by Lake Central High School teacher Tom Clark and his students for more than 35 years as part of a Gold Star project. Clark will serve as the museum’s curator.
“The museum pays tribute to veterans from all wars and will be a center where visitors can learn about the many sacrifices made by veterans,” Jarvis said. “It will also provide each visitor with an in-depth look at how these men and women lived during wartime.”
One of the displays honors recipients of the Purple Heart and all those who gave their lives in service to their country, he said.
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the president to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after April 5, 1917, with the U.S. military.
Another display will pay tribute to local residents who served in all branches of military service, Jarvis said.
“The museum is open to the general public, but we are also going to invite different schools to learn about the experiences of our military veterans,” he said.
This museum, which cost about $58,000 to construct, also represents the collective efforts of many people and organizations, he said.
The project received donations of manpower and material from many sources, including the carpenters, roofers, laborers and painters unions as well as from Hyre Electric and Schilling Lumber. Lake Central students also donated funds and volunteered during fundraisers.
Although the building is two stories high, the single floor includes space above for hanging flags, airplanes and other items.
“This is just the stepping stone,” Jarvis said. “We plan a 30,000-square-foot building in the future and will be going out for donations to build the four-story museum. This original structure will be like an administration building.”
Each of the floors in the future Veterans Museum will represent a different period of warfare, he said.