Honoring Veterans in Belmont County And Beyond
History Detectives of Belmont County member Kim Kuthy, Director of the Tri-State Military Veterans Museum in Belmont, talks about how she became involved in the museum and why it is important to honor our veterans.
How did you get involved with the museum?
The late Floyd Simpson asked me to help develop a museum in the American Legion Post 312 building. He passed away six years ago, and I asked Cheryl Skinner to be the assistant director, as I was still working full-time. Cheryl continues to help me, and many of the displays at the museum were ideas she found at other museums, such as the pictures on the back wall.
How has the museum changed since its opening? It began as a military veterans museum for all of Belmont County and has since expanded to include the tri-state area. Our mission is to honor our county’s veterans and to educate future generations on the price of freedom.
Other additions to the museum include the Heroes Wall containing the names of veterans, the remodeling of the building, and the acquisition of many uniforms and full-dress uniforms from World War I.
The museum’s collection also includes a Civil War reenactor costume. We have items from every war, beginning with the Civil War.
What can visitors expect when they visit the museum?
When they first walk in the door, they are amazed by how much we have, especially all the photos on the back wall. Visitors are amazed by all the mementos and that Cheryl and I know so much of their history. I love that we have the history behind the objects. For example, we have Civil War discharge papers that list the monetary compensation the soldier received for losing some of his fingers.
Ninety-seven percent of what is on display has been donated. A Coast Guard uniform is one exception. It was purchased and belonged to Dr. Hill from Ohio, who served in the Vietnam and Korean Wars.
Many veterans visit first, then bring their families back with them. They are surprised that the little town of Belmont has such an extensive collection of veterans' items.
Why is it important to honor our veterans?
It is important to honor our veterans because they are the reason we have what we have today. They are the reason we have freedom, and freedom is not free. It is our history, and we need to know our history.
What is your favorite display at the museum, and why?
The Vietnam War era display is my favorite because it was going on when I was a teenager. My brother was drafted when I was in seventh grade, but I didn’t understand the consequences of that at the time.
I also like the Civil War wall because all the newspaper articles are original.
We also have money from all the war periods. I collect coins, so I like that, too.
What exhibits or events do you have planned for next year?
The museum was recently awarded an Ohio Arts Council grant to purchase a bronze military dog statue to be created by Zanesville artist Alan Cottrill. The statue should be ready for display for Memorial Day events in 2023, including hosting participants in Run For The Wall, a journey from California to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., then on to the Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marseilles, Illinois.
The museum will be open for Veterans Day and serves as a pick-up location for fruit baskets that the Village of Belmont gives to veterans each year.