By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
EVERETT — Historical military uniforms, combat gear and letters from the front lines are among the items displayed at the Seattle Veterans Museum’s new home in Everett.
The museum, with its motto of “To Honor and To Educate,” contains artifacts from each branch of the military and most U.S. wars. The stories of individual soldiers and sailors from the region are told through the museum’s displays.
Unable to pay rent at its former space at the Seattle Center, the nonprofit museum was saved from a stuffed storage unit by the Everett Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2100. VFW member Earl Stephens contacted the museum’s director in March to offer a temporary home at the Everett VFW, located at 2711 Oakes Ave.
“I had been wanting to start some sort of military museum here in Everett, but (Seattle Veterans Museum) already had the ball rolling, so we invited (the museum to move) here,” Stephens said. “We have more support for the military in Snohomish County than King County does. We have fewer parking problems. I really want the museum to stay in Everett.”
That’s what museum director Todd Crooks, a Navy Reservist, wants, too.
“I hope the museum will be good for Everett as a tourist stop and become a landmark where people can go to thank our veterans and learn about what they did for us,” Crooks said. “Other parts of the state have military museums, but there isn’t much north of Tacoma.”
For now, though, the museum’s VFW home is a part of the transition and move to Everett.
The VFW provided a room off its banquet area where a portion of the museum collection is displayed, Crooks said. The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays this month, as well as Memorial Day.
“We have a desperate need for volunteers so we can be open on Saturdays, too,” Crooks said.
Along with a crew of volunteers and new board members, the museum needs steady financial backing, a permanent 1,000-square-foot home and display cases, Crooks said.
The veterans museum had its start about 10 years ago when Crooks, now 50, displayed a collection of military memorabilia at a festival in Bothell. After it was established at the Seattle Center, the museum had good support for several years. Then interest waned.
“The city of Seattle and King County did not have any available space to house us or any money to help our efforts to keep the museum going in Seattle,” Crooks said. “The Everett VFW has been very accommodating. They get it.”
Crooks is joined in his efforts by museum board member John Chapman, 64, a Vietnam veteran.
“The museum began as a way to fill a void in the Puget Sound area by establishing a museum where families could go to see, hear and learn about our country’s history and its veterans,” Chapman said. “Volunteers have used their own money and time to get this museum rolling, and we hope people in Snohomish County agree that our veterans deserve all the recognition and appreciation we can offer them.”
Stephens, who serves as a chaplain for the Everett VFW, recently brought his granddaughter in to see some of the museum’s collection. As a Marine Corps and Army National Guard veteran, Stephens enjoyed telling her some stories.
“My granddaughter was thrilled, and she kept asking me questions,” Stephens said. “It was nice to be able to answer those questions. It really is about educating the kids and honoring the vets.”
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everett’s new Veterans Museum is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays this month, as well as Memorial Day, at the Everett VFW, 2711 Oakes Ave. For information, email email@example.com. Though not up to date, www.seattleveteransmuseum.org also has information.