Topping off the Tank: Vermilion County War Museum

Morning Show Features

Danville, Ill. (WCIA) — There are more than 60,000 war artifacts that tell our nation’s history at the Vermilion County War Museum. All those items have a connection with central Illinois.

When you walk into the Vermilion County War Museum, it’s hard to figure out where to look first.

“We like to, as I said, emphasize the individuals and show what they did, and also it’s very generational,” Larry Weatherford tells us. “People who may have fought in the Civil War, their children, grandchildren fought in other wars later on to protect our country.”

Weatherford is a historian at the museum and said one of his favorite items is a reproduction of a uniform that would’ve been worn by Private Thomas Lammey. Behind that uniform, his very own sword is up on the wall.

“It was donated by his great-granddaughter, and next to him is a WWII B-17-style bomber jacket,” Weatherford explained the exhibit. “That belongs to his grandson, William Whitaker, and he flew 37 missions, with a picture of his actual B-17 behind him.”

Stories like that are pretty special for volunteers like Nicole Bolton Smith. That’s because her father served in the Desert Storm era.

“History doesn’t always repeat itself, but it can rhyme, so you need to remember what happened before, so you can move forward,” she told us what her grandfather always said.

One of her favorite rooms is dedicated to prisoners of war and those missing in action.

“There’s a lovely little poem that I know it off by heart, but if I read it, I probably will cry, and it’s just to remember our fallen soldiers that haven’t made it home and that we’re still searching for,” she talked about the table for the missing solider. “I get very emotional when I think about it because there’s still soldiers being found.”

She says she hears stories about them all the time, and it means a lot to their families that they aren’t forgotten.

“It’s a lovely thing to remember, because all you can think of is whose father didn’t come home, whose sister didn’t come home, whose brother didn’t come home, and just to let them know that we’re still remembering them, that we’ll never forget them, and here is their home,” Bolton Smith explained.

And whether you have service members in your family or not, you can appreciate the more than 60,000 items the museum has to offer.

The museum is open Tuesday-Friday 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

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