November 5, 2001
Seattle Veterans Museum takes to the road
by Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
There are lots of historic military items to see at the Seattle Veterans Museum, from a cavalry saber to the authentic gear of an American soldier who fought in Vietnam. A nonprofit organization, the museum was incorporated and registered with the state on Oct. 11, 2001. At this time the large collection of military antiques is on the road until it finds a permanent location.
First stop, the museum will display World War II items at Lake Washington Technical College Nov. 5-8. It is "World War II Week" at the college and each night a veteran will tell about his perilous experience during the war. The presentations will run 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the West Building on the fourth floor. The military collection, which includes uniforms, will be available for viewing before and after the talks.
On Sunday, Nov. 11, the museum's collection travels to the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The Seattle Veterans Museum will have tables exhibiting artifacts from the Civil War through Desert Storm, as well as mannequins outfitted in historic uniforms and military gear.
Next month, the museum will take to the road again and show the collection at the Northshore Senior Center, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Director Todd Crooks, a Bothell resident, plans to talk about the museum to the seniors and everyone who visits. "And thank the veterans and shake their hands," he adds.
In addition, there's an interesting sidelight that will interest Northshore citizens in particular. "I have a few items from Oscar Roloff," Crooks says and explains, "He was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. He was a big Navy guy." Roloff, who passed away a few years ago, was not only a journalist for the Navy but also a revered columnist for the Woodinville Weekly. In his columns he shared his early memories of the area with his readers. Crooks notes that while Roloff served in the military, he traveled to Russia to write. The museum, he says, has acquired some of his attire from that trip. "I've got some of his Navy deck jackets," he says. He mentions, too, that some of Roloff's journals will also be on display. The journals include writings of Roloff's wartime days.
Currently, Crooks is seeking a space to house the large collection of military antiques. "We've got some places under consideration," he says. He's currently looking at an office space at the Sand Point Naval Station. But he's open to other ideas. "We'll take any opportunity that comes along. We're looking for any offers." He adds, "What we'd like to do is raise $3 or 4 million and put up a brand new facility in the Seattle area."
Crooks sees the Veterans Memorial Museum in Centralia as the model he'd like the Seattle museum patterned after. Director Lee Grimes has been helping Crooks organize the Seattle military museum. "It's just a wonderful museum," Crooks adds, commenting on the Centralia museum. "You can't get out of there without tears welling up in your eyes."
One of the purposes for the Seattle Veterans Museum, Crooks says, is to inform the public of the tremendous price veterans have paid through hard work, suffering, deprivations, injuries and deaths. He explains, "First of all, we need to thank these veterans. The moment you're born in this country, you're in the freest country the world's ever known and you don't have to do a thing because the veterans have already paid for it."
For now, volunteers are needed. Crooks and fellow Board of Directors Hunter Floyd and Jerry Bennet are looking for people to assist with future displays and fund raising events as well as individuals with experience in directing organizations.
For those interested in volunteering, donating or seeking more information, contact Crooks at (425) 821-0489 or write: Seattle Veterans Museum, Box 82333, Kenmore 98028. For information on World War II Week, call Roy Stevenson at (425) 739-8319.