KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Americans turn their attention to the men and women who have served our country every Veterans Day.
But one community in the East celebrates their service and sacrifices every week.
Tucked away in Kinston is G.I. Joe’s Military “Living History” Museum.
Eric Cantu is an Army Veteran and spends much of his time there.
He shares, “There are very few places in this country that veterans and families can go to, to feel a comradery in which they’re able to speak about their experiences during some of the worst times of their life.”
It’s a place that spotlights similarities, differences and shared feelings.
“A veteran can communicate with another veteran,” says Army Veteran Ralph Smith.
The halls are filled with things that reflect a history of service — pictures, uniforms, and war memorabilia.
For Air Force Veteran Wilson Jones, the museum is a place and form of therapy.
“It’s a healing place. When my wife passed away two years ago, I came here and these guys saved my life, I really believe this,” explains Jones.
Healing is the museum’s central theme — especially in its art studio.
Molly B. Smith is an art teacher at the museum.
She says, “Family members are affected as much as the actual guys that go out or women too that go out there on the front lines and I just think that coming in here helps them to reestablish and revamp their lives.”
The museum doesn’t just honor veterans, it teaches visitors about their lives of service.
Jones explains, “When a child comes in, grandpa is that you, Daddy is that you, it does my heart good.”
That’s a connection many veterans want to have happened much more often, especially with their community.
Jones continues, “If you see a Veteran or a guy that’s in service, go up and thank them for their service. This would mean so much to them or somebody like me.”
G.I. Joe’s Military Living History Museum is located at 1165b NC-11, Kinston, NC 28504.