A Thankless Service: A profile on the Maryland Veteran’s Museum

Southern Maryland does not look like it has much to the naked eye, but digging deeper within the region’s rich history can be quite rewarding. The Maryland Veteran’s Museum in Newburg, Md., just beyond the Potomac River, is one of those treasures built from the community.

The museum, which receives both monetary and tributary donations from the surrounding community, is recognized as the lead exhibit on the Maryland Garden and Pilgrimage tour by the state government.

The thought of turning an old high school and a former police academy into a museum recognizing not only veteran history, but American history, that can be hard to fathom according to museum President and former Vietnam veteran Larry Abell. But, with the community’s help, he said anything is possible.

Abell started off as an architect for the museum but rose into the rank of president after the passing of Colonel Donald Wade, who was a Charles County school board member. As the museum continues to grow, Abell said, he wants exhibits to become more inclusive and more interactive.

“It’s hard to go against American history. Whether it’s good or bad, it’s our history and we own it,” Abell said. “I want to continue to help the museum grow and reflect that.”

But while the museum’s growth is an issue in itself, maintaining the museum and drawing consistent traffic may be more significant. Abell, with the help of an volunteer-only staff of 12 people, continue to maintain the property and spread word about it throughout the county. However, Abell said, despite all the promotion, having consistent traffic is something they have not been able to accomplish yet but would like to do.

Still, he said, the museum has grown from a project that initially had investors more than $200,000 in debt to what Abe Kennedy, a volunteer historian and former Vietnam Veteran, said is a facility appraised at more than $1 million.

“Our goal is to continue to grow and not have to rely on volunteers so much,” Kennedy said. “Eventually, I think we’re going to do that.”

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