Next to the main entrance of the Sampson County History Museum, construction workers are making progress on a state-of-the-art building to honor the military.
Once the military building is completed, it will serve as a site to honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives for America. Local supporters are pleased with the advancement of a vision that’s becoming a reality — thanks to the generosity of community members. So far about $151,000 has been raised through gifts and grants.
Marshall Falatovich, chairman of the fundraising committee, is looking forward to telling the story of local veterans from all wars and conflicts.
“It’s going to be something people are really proud of in Sampson County,” Falatovich said.
Don Puryear was selected as the builder for the contract.Officials are in talks with Design Dimensions, Inc. of Raleigh for interior design work. The outside work is expected to be completed in late April or May, depending on weather.
“We have enough money to build the building,” Falatovich said. “Now we need the money to do the inside.”
According to estimates provided by officials, it is going to cost between $50,000 and $75,000 to complete the facility.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held during a Veterans Day ceremony in November and many are taking notice of the progress. Sampson Veterans Service Officer Ann Knowles is still ecstatic about the idea which started three years ago. One of the first donations was a $100 gift from her. Knowles serves on a building committee with Falatovich and many others such as David King and Kay Raynor.
Knowles expressed how it’ important for people to know about the history. Through her work, she reminded about the past and how it relates to the freedoms many Americans enjoy today. She said a lot of young people are probably unaware.
“Without our veterans, we wouldn’t be here and we’ll probably be speaking another language,” she said. “World War II … those were the veterans who turned things around and it’s taken every veteran since then to keep our country as it is — free. That’s why it’s important to celebrate the present, the past and the future.”
Supporters believe the museum is a tool for people to understand the stories behind the men and women who served.
“Our veterans have giving us a lot of artifacts to put on display,” she said. “Every artifact has a story.”
One is a picture of the Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, which became the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb. It includes signatures of servicemen on the plane.
Knowles said the goal is to not only have artifacts, but to tell the story of military history through kiosk, monitors and displays. She added that one of features is going to include a kiosk donated by the Medal of Honor Society. It will include recipients who earned the prestigious honor. The Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville and its quality was used as an example of something to aim for.
“If you talk to any veteran, they’re proud of their service,” she said. “This is a way that we can honor them.”
Donations from individuals or businesses have ranged from $1 as high as $25,000. Knowles said she wants everyone to claim the project as theirs, after the fully furnished building is complete. The supporters expressed how donations are still needed.
Museum officials and the board of directors are currently taking donations for the military unit. Different levels of giving are available, ranging from Major General ($25,000) to Company ($100).
For more information, contact the museum at 910-590-0007 or by email at [email protected] Donations may also be mailed to: Sampson County History Museum, 313 Lisbon St., (P.O. Box 786) Clinton, N.C. 28329.
Like many others, Museum Director Chris Woodson is impressed with the progress. He’s looking forward to seeing the building open up soon.
“We’re all excited about it,” Woodson said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.