ARAB, Ala. - Our nation will honor the men and women who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 on Tuesday. It's a day people across the country learned freedom isn't free. A lesson veterans in Arab have been working to teach the community for years.
The nonprofit Cost of Freedom Veterans Museum was opened in 2013. It documents every war the United States has fought in since the Revolutionary War.
But what may be more interesting than the vast and extensive history inside the museum is the veterans who run it, and the legacy they're leaving behind.
If you drive too fast through downtown Arab you might miss it, but it's sure worth the second glance. The Cost of Freedom Veterans Museum opens the door to a real life look at history.
For instance, visitors can find a blasting machine from the Civil War and a silk map used on D-Day. The museum wants to show people what war is really like. On display is a trench recreated to show what warfare was like.
"The World War I rifle, we have WWI radio equipment and telephone equipment," volunteer James Carson said.
There are also real meals that were fed to military members in WWII, ranging all the way to the present day.
Many of the items were donated or are on loan from men and woman from the surrounding counties.
"We have the uniforms of a Navy man who was a resident of Arab," Carson said.
This isn't just a museum of national history, but a showcase of how Alabamians played a role in the history of our nation, including volunteer James Carson.
His family has a legacy of serving in the military. His grandfather fought in the Civil War. His grandfather's sons fought in WWI. Three of Carson's brothers fought in WWII. Fortunately, all of them made it back home without injury.
Carson joined the Army in 1943. He was 20 years old, 5'2" and 110 pounds. Because of his stature, he was sent to radio school.
"I said well Sergeant I don't know anything about radio and he said well you'll learn. And of course, I did," he said. He served under General Patton as a high-speed radio operator.
"So that was my radio truck this picture was taken in Belgium at the tale of the Battle of the Bulge. This was taken in Belgium in February of 1945," he said, as he pointed at a picture on the wall.
WWII wasn't the end of his military career. He enlisted three times, finally ending his service in 2010.
"It just seemed like the right thing to do," he said.
He says the museum serves as a reminder to the community.
"Those who paid the supreme sacrifice, those that were killed, they paid a price for the freedom that we're enjoying today," Carson explained.
Now he's taken on a different kind of watch, to protect the legacy of military members since they protected our country.
Even though there are hundreds of items on display there are many in storage because they don't have enough space. The nonprofit is doing a fundraiser to earn money to expand the museum. They are selling bricks people can purchase to place at the veteran's memorial in Arab. Each brick costs $100.
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