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By Linda Emley
On Saturday, Sept. 29, the Ray County Historical Society is hosting its 6th annual Veterans’ Appreciation Picnic at the Ray County Museum. This is the third year that I’ve gotten to be a part of this event and like many other Ray Countians, it’s an honor to be able to thank our veterans for their service.
We’ll have a fun-filled day with the Lexington Wind Symphony playing patriotic songs. Our local VFW, American Legion and Dr. Dave Smith from the Excelsior Springs VA Clinic will be on hand to offer information about their services.
Lunch will be served at noon, with food being provided by the Ray County Historical Society and the Ray County Commission. The picnic is always held on the east lawn, but we hope everyone will tour the museum and enjoy all the new items that have been added over the past year. I’d like to take this opportunity and share a few highlights of the veteran-related artifacts in our museum.
The World War II exhibit is one of our more popular rooms. We have uniforms that are labeled with the name of each soldier and it’s always fun when you find the name of someone you knew growing up or even a family member. You will find German and Japanese swords, but I’m sorry to say we don’t have any rifles. When giving a tour, I always mention that we live in a deer hunting county and people aren’t ready to retire those rifles yet. If anyone has an extra one they are no longer using, we would love to add it to our collection.
Down the hall is our World War I room that has many interesting items, but it, too, is lacking a rifle. Some of the highlights of this room are the “war horse” saddle, a brass plaque that lists all Ray County WW I soldiers and a large mock bomb that was dropped many times from an airplane.
Due to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, many visitors are taking an extra interest in our Civil War collection. The lack of rifles is not a problem in this room because we have over 10 different ones on display. You’ll find cannonballs, flags, uniforms, swords and a variety of items.
In the last year, we’ve added two items that tell an important part of Civil War history. We have two grave markers that show the difference between how the Northern and Southern soldiers’ graves were marked. Neither marker was actually placed on a grave, but they do tell a story because we have them laid side by side and there is a big difference in the size of the stones. These tombstones are another piece of history that will forever be preserved in our museum.
The Revolutionary War hasn’t been forgotten because we have a room that is sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution. There are at least four revolutionary soldiers buried in Ray County and we’re looking for a few more.
We are currently working on a Vietnam/ Korean room, a Desert Storm room and a Alexander Doniphan room that will tell about our connection to the Mexican-American War.
War isn’t a topic that many like to think about, but we wouldn’t be the United States of America if we hadn’t gone to war with Great Britain in 1775.
We need to thank our veterans and let them know we’ll never forget that we are a free nation because they served. Please come join us as we honor Ray County’s own heroes on Saturday Sept 29.
Linda Emley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.