That’s the condensed version of how Lewis County became home to a renowned museum showcasing stories of men and women who have sacrificed in service to their nation.Heeding that still small voice, Grimes purchased a video recorder and began gathering the stories of military veterans. As he did, many gave him uniforms, photos and memorabilia, and the Veterans Memorial Museum was born.
Now a book called “The Miracle Museum” tells the longer version and how veterans who have visited the museum in the past 15 years have received a warm welcome and hope and healing of wounded hearts. All proceeds from sale of the book benefit the museum.
When I met Grimes a decade ago and he told me how the museum started, the story lifted my heart and resonated in my spirit. How many of us hear that still small voice and fail to heed it? I need a sledgehammer from God to know what he wants me to do.
Then, in early 2010, while organizing a Northwest meeting of the Association of Personal Historians, I wanted people to see the museum so I emailed Grimes about renting the upstairs room. During our back-and-forth email correspondence, I wrote that someday I’d love to help him share the story of how the museum began. But then I erased that line, feeling that I was being rather presumptuous to suggest such a thing. Grimes responded by email and again thanked me for my efforts to promote the museum … and then said he hoped I would help him tell the story of “The Miracle Museum.” The sledgehammer!
I met with Grimes eight times that year, tapping furiously on my laptop as he shared fabulous stories about the people who helped start the museum and veterans who gave generously of time and talent to remodel the rental building in Centralia and construct the existing building in Chehalis. I often found myself swiping tears from my eyes as he told how God has worked in the lives of so many people, healing decades-old wounds and bringing peace to war-ravaged hearts.
Now, four years later, the book is at the printer’s and should be ready to sell in time for the July 31 through Aug. 3 visit by the Vietnam Traveling Wall, which will be open for public viewing 24 hours a day. The Brothers in Arms Motorcycle Club will escort the wall through Centralia and Chehalis to the museum July 30.