By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
A new, larger mobile unit is on a roll in Canadian County spreading knowledge about what U.S. military veterans have sacrificed for their country.
The Yukon Veterans Museum, 1010 W Main, recently unveiled an expanded portable exhibition filled with historic military artifacts.
“This brings the past to the present,” said Rick Cacini, founder and curator of the Yukon Veterans Museum. “Some folks can’t make it to the museum, so we bring it to them.”
The enclosed trailer is 16 feet long and 8 feet wide with a wheelchair-accessible ramp.
This mobile museum is available for deployment to schools, retirement centers, health care facilities, and other venues; and for parades and special events.
The impressive trailer – with replaces one that was 12 feet long and 7 feet wide – debuted July 3-4 during Yukon’s Freedom Fest celebration.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was July 14 in the Yukon Veterans Museum parking lot. Museum volunteers joined Yukon business leaders and citizens for food and refreshments afterward during a Yukon Chamber Business After Hours.
Attendees admired the mobile museum’s exterior, which includes emblems of all U.S. armed services: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, and Space Force.
LOTS TO SEE
Cacini, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, talked about some featured attractions inside the vet museum’s mobile unit.
“We have Japanese combat uniforms that U.S. troops brought back from World War II, Navy artifacts, various weapons systems, and stories about Pearl Harbor and the wars,” he said. “We have newspaper clippings, photos, nurse’s uniforms, pistol belts with holsters, and inert grenades. There’s a lot to see that has been donated to our museum.”
The Yukon Veterans Museum’s first, smaller mobile unit debuted at the 2019 Freedom Fest.
“We went to various schools in Yukon, the Dale Robertson Center, the VA (Veterans Administration) Center in Norman, and other places,” Cacini said.
With buildings and facilities reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic, museum volunteers will start bringing the new-and-improved trailer around to these and other venues.
“We’re trying to remind our offspring of the history they have in the City of Yukon and what our Yukon veterans and their ancestors have done for our country,” Cacini said.
“Our new mobile unit is another way to remind people of the great job our veterans did.
Look at our free, democratic society. We have many freedoms that other counties do not have. It’s great to be an American citizen and live in America.”
MUSEUM BACK IN BUSINESS
The Yukon Veterans Museum is back in business after being closed for about two months this spring after local and statewide COVID-19 disaster declarations.
Since September 2016, the Yukon Veterans Museum has occupied a 4,100 square-foot space inside the American Legion Building at 1010 W Main.
“This museum belongs to the City of Yukon,” said Cacini, a Yukon City Council member. “It’s not my museum. It’s everyone’s museum.”
The museum features many displays, including battlefield gear, flags, historic photographs, uniforms, helmets, weapons, newspaper and magazine articles, and military documents.
Military artifacts featured in the Yukon Veterans Museum have been donated by individuals, families and veterans.
The Yukon Veterans Museum’s regular hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Appointments are available outside those hours.
The museum hosts a service day for VA benefits from 9 a.m. to noon on the second Saturday each month.
The Yukon Veterans Museum was founded in July 2013. For the first three years, the museum was housed inside the now-closed Yukon Museum and Arts Center (Old Central School), 601 Oak.
Yukon Veterans Museum officers are: President Rick Cacini, Vice President Eddie “Mac” McFadden, Secretary Jack Stewart, Treasurer Jerry Stafford, Historian/Chaplain Jenny Crane, Director of Artifacts Jerry Icenhower, Trustee Jack Hinton, Trustee Tom Thomas, and Trustee Ron Edmonson.
For more information, call Cacini at 517-1901, Stafford at 388-8845 or Icenhower at 514-6794.