Bangor museum looking to expand collection of Purple Heart medals

Posted May 26, 2011, at 4:18 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Officials at Cole Land Transportation Museum are hoping to expand its collection of Purple Heart medals, which is kept in a locked glass case in the military room at the museum at 405 Perry Road.

The museum now has eight Purple Heart medals, each earned by a service member wounded or killed while in the military, said museum founder Galen Cole. His own Purple Heart, received when a German shell hit the truck he was riding in during World War II, killing five of his fellow soldiers, is among the collection.

Those interested in contributing their own or a family member’s Purple Heart to the collection on display may stop in at the museum, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through Nov. 11, or call the museum at 990-3600. The museum also has a Purple Heart Memorial on its grounds.

One of the most popular programs at Cole Museum continues to be the distribution of maple walking sticks, made by Peavey Manufacturing in Eddington, to Maine war veterans.

The project began more than a dozen years ago with plans to give out 600 walking sticks to Maine veterans of World War II. The program received such an enthusiastic response that the museum has now given out more than 7,100 walking sticks to Maine veterans of four war eras. As of May 20, the totals were:

• World War II, 2,250.

• Korean War, 1,002.

• Vietnam War, 2,995.

• Global War on Terror, 874.

The Maine-made walking sticks continue to be available to Maine war veterans who haven’t yet obtained one 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through May 29 at the museum, 405 Perry Road. The walking sticks are intended to honor Maine war veterans and to encourage participation in patriotic parades. Each war veteran should bring a copy of discharge papers or some other proof of service.

The museum has a variety of military items on display, both in a separate room and on the main floor of the museum.

Another popular project at the museum is Ambassadors of Patriotism, which involves several dozen veterans participating in the Veteran Interview Program each spring and fall at the museum.

“More than 22,000 Maine students have interviewed veterans in this powerful program in our museum conference room,” Cole wrote in a recent letter to veterans on the museum mailing list. “You, too, can experience the satisfaction of giving back and receive the real appreciation of special learning experiences from Maine students.

“We need additional Vietnam, Desert Storm and Global War on Terror veterans to take part in this program,” Cole wrote. “If you have interest in learning more or know someone else who may be interested, please contact us for more information or simply come and see one of these student interview sessions in action — and then decide if you would like to join in with others in the program.”

Those interested in volunteering may call Pat Trice at 990-3600, extension 13.

Admission to the Cole Land Transportation Museum is $7, $5 seniors, free age 18 and under. For information, visit http://www.colemuseum.org

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