The Nebraska Funeral Directors Association was approached by Gerald Meyer, historian of the Nebraska National Guard (NNG) Museum, requesting that the NeFDA consider sponsoring the “Price of Freedom” display at the new NNG Museum. Gerald and Society President, Darin Krueger, attended the NeFDA District Meetings in 2015 to discuss plans for the new museum. The NeFDA Board has agreed to sponsor $10,000 of the project so far and is looking to the membership for additional support.

Price of Freedom Display Sponsorship Form

National Guard Museum - wall

Summary: Today in Europe there are 10 memorials to Nebraskans who fought to liberate the continent during World War II. The logo of the 35th Infantry Division and the NNG’s famed 134th Infantry Regiment are emblazoned on these markers to remind the world of the sacrifice of America’s youth during the war. In Nebraska, there is no memorial to the 109 soldiers killed with the 134th Infantry Regiment. There is no memorial to the 14 Nebraska Air Guard pilots that have died since its founding in 1946. There are 3 memorials in Nebraska to the 10 soldiers that have been killed in conflict since 2001. The NNG wants to create a unique display called the “Price of Freedom” to teach and educate future generations about the principle of “Freedom is Not Free.” The display will focus the initial view on the World War II memories but will expand to include all that have paid the ultimate price since our founding in 1854.

The Nebraska Funeral Home Directors Association: No other group in Nebraska has the knowledge and insight on the importance of remembering out military fallen then the Funeral Home Directors around the state of Nebraska. The Museum was able to brief the directors at their regional meetings this past year. The military funeral is the most emotional experience for many of our families. The display is set to bring out that emotion when it is unveiled.

History behind the “Price of Freedom”: The NNG Museum is currently researching members of the organization that were killed in World War II with the 134th Infantry Regiment, 110th Medical Battalion, and 35th Quartermaster Company. The Museum is currently tracking 109 soldiers from Nebraska that served with these units that were killed in the war. The memorial to these fallen will be part of a display called “The Price of Freedom.” The exhibit will feature a wall of Western Union Telegrams announcing to the family the death of a loved one. Opposite the wall of telegrams, will be a Wall of Faces which will feature images of those killed during the war and all the way back to 1854 while serving with the NNG. The Wall of Faces will include an interactive display to pull down more information about a specific person that was killed while serving. The exterior shroud of the exhibit will feature a member of the honor guard saluting a fallen warrior with the logo “The Price of Freedom.”

Western Union Telegram: The idea of the Western Union Telegram display is to show graphically the cost of war and how impersonal it is. The telegrams were delivered to the family as if it were an email or text message today. The most dreaded person in a community during the war was the Western Union dispatcher or the sheriff. The telegram would contain basic data such as the family name and address and a standard message: “The War Department regrets to inform you…..” The Museum will recreate every telegram for each individual from the NNG that was killed while serving in units mobilized from the state. Each telegram will have a graphic for the Purple Heart (awarded to all KIA’s), Silver Star (if awarded), and Bronze Star (if awarded), and where they are buried today.

Wall of Faces: The idea behind the Wall of Faces is to add the image of that person that was killed to be looking back at the patron. The wall will have a mix of old and new from the history of the NNG. The interactive display will allow a person to research more on a particular service member. The interactive display is where the Museum needs more information about that person to include: photographs, letters, papers, artifacts, etc…. This display can be constantly be improved with the additional information.

The Price of Freedom Shroud: The large image of the soldier saluting a fallen comrade is a poignant picture of the last farewell to a member of the military. This award winning picture shows a Nebraska Funeral Honors soldier saluting the flag draped coffin. The image plus the logo “The Price of Freedom” lends dignity to the display.

Conclusion: The Museum wished to pay proper honors to these soldiers that were from Nebraska and were killed in World War II, to include our soldiers and airmen killed since our founding in 1854. No other display in the museum will pack such an emotional response.

Construction Cost and Timeline: Hartman Historical Services of Omaha is the contractor. Estimated cost for the “Price of Freedom” display is $40,000. Donor Plate is attached onto the alcove in a prominent location to show who sponsored the exhibit. Any additional improvements will be paid for by the Museum (upgrade technology, etc…). The best times to do a ribbon cutting unveiling is around July 4th or similar patriotic holidays (Flag Day in June, Veterans Day in November). July 4th brings the most people to Seward. The Museum saw 3,873 people on July 4, 2015, to tour the building (no displays). The Society estimates up to 30,000 people a year will visit the Museum once all displays are complete. This is the “Nebraska” National Guard Museum and focuses on all 93 counties in which we have armories, soldiers and airmen that have ties to the National Guard.

Funeral Homes & Directors:

Sponsorship levels have been established. If you would like to support this project fill out the form included with the newsletter or view the form on the NeFDA website.

The deadline to provide support is April 29, 2016.

 

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