Memorial at pioneer museum honors sacrifices for freedom

Kristi O’Harran

Kristi’s Notebook

The anniversary this week of the attack on Pearl Harbor reminds us about the atrocities of war and the significance of peace. At 11 a.m. Thursday, you may attend a special dedication of a new military memorial at the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum at 20722 67th Ave. NE in Arlington.

The memorial honors those who died serving our country, those enlisted in the U.S. military and those who will serve in the future.

That’s nice. Museum caretaker Martin Rausch said Navy families who look at the museum helped inspire the idea for the memorial.

"Many come to visit who aren’t familiar with the Northwest," Rausch said. "They are pleased to find a military display in the museum."

Now they will also find a memorial garden in front of the beautiful building. River stones, like those that spruce the outside of the museum, will embrace a plaque reading "Honoring our military who serve our country through war and peace."

Visitors will be able to admire the plaque from three serenity benches. When the museum is open, they can admire a military display filled with uniforms and medals.

It’s amazing to think the impressive structure was built with volunteer labor organized by Stillaguamish pioneers. Under construction for 10 years, the effect is that of a mansion adorned with pleasing antiques. Guides lead tours through turn-of-the-century kitchens, parlors and a barber shop. Upstairs stuffed animals create a woodland scene.

Anyone who ever attended school in the area will love photographs showing high school classes and sport teams. The archives appear jammed with interesting research materials.

Everything in the museum is donated.

Seeing Lincoln Log boxes took me way back. Inside a display case, there was a coloring book featuring the Dionne Quintuplets.

Remember roller skates that hooked on the bottom of your shoes and tightened with a key? My guide, Inez Kuhnhausen, showed me a moonshine still in the corner of one room. Artisans, such as a jeweler and a photographer, have made large gifts of the tools of their trades.

The bulk of my time was spent at the sentimental military area. The museum has mannequins wearing actual uniforms from former wars. It makes your heart stop to think where the apparel may have been worn. The memorial plaque to be dedicated Thursday includes emblems from the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines and Merchant Marines. All branches are represented in some fashion in the museum display.

Around the corner, there is even a mannequin wearing an Arlington volunteer firefighter’s uniform.

When I mentioned that display items are donated, you might picture a rinky-dink, musty museum with odds and ends propped here and there. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Plush surroundings invite long looks at detailed antiques.

With the upcoming dedication, the museum is an even better value at $1 suggested donation per visit. If you are enthused about visiting, hold on. It’s closed until after the holidays.

Your last chance to look inside this year is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

We all know what happened in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. On that day this year, gather in Arlington for a thoughtful reminder of peace.

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