Freedom Museum holds V-Day celebration
BY KATHY CHAFFIN
CHINA GROVE ó It’s been just more than a year since The Price of Freedom Museum opened in the old Patterson School at 2470 Weaver Road.
Since then, more than 3,000 visitors have signed the guest book at the entrance. Bobby Mault, who started the museum, said people have come from all over to view the extensive collection of military memorabilia.
Sixty-eight, for example, were part of an antique car club on a three-day tour of Salisbury. Mault has a photo of the group, which included members from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, on a digital picture frame he displays at special events at the museum and the rest of the time at Mault Texaco.
The frame also features photos of Rowan-Salisbury School groups that have visited the museum this past year.
“My dream was to get school children in the fourth and fifth grades to come so it would teach them about the price of freedom,” he said.
Mault and Frank Albright, who helped get the museum up and going, are planning a Veterans Day celebration Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The celebration is open to the public, and the only cost is if someone wants to buy food from the vendors that will be set up there.
Among the scheduled events are military and firearms demonstrations.
Displays of military vehicles will be set up outside while exhibits of firearms, uniforms and all types of military memorabilia will be available for viewing in the school hallway and cafeteria, where the museum is located.
Mault said the Carolina Military Club out of Raleigh is planning to bring vehicles for display, and the Old Hickory Association will be setting up displays of war equipment, uniforms and various other memorabilia.
The association’s mission is to preserve, restore and display military memorabilia from the World War II era to ensure the sacrifices made are not forgotten.
Its members include veterans and people who wish to honor them.
That’s right in line with 75-year-old Mault’s reason for starting the military memorabilia collection that ultimately led to the museum. His four brothers served in World War II, he said, “and I’ve always wanted to honor those who fought for our freedom and to teach this generation how to preserve it.”
Mault said there will be plenty of space for parking for the Veterans Day celebration, and he encourages veterans and their families to attend along with the general public. Those who wish to display their own military memorabilia collection need not bring tables, he said, as there are plenty at the school.
About 500 people attended a June 6 D-Day event at the museum, but because so many of the displays were set up on the side of the school opposite from the museum, Mault said some people left without realizing they were there.
This year, he said, the displays will extend from the museum through the school to the vehicle display on the school grounds.
Although the museum is now contained to the cafeteria, Mault said he eventually plans to expand it into the school building, where separate display rooms will be set up for each branch of the military and the auditorium used for films and special presentations.
“I’ve never asked for or bought any of it,” he said of the museum exhibits. “It’s all been given.”
Whenever someone donates an item for display at the museum, Mault said he or Albright takes a photo of the person giving one of them the item and makes two copies, one for the museum and one for the contributor. That way, the contributor or a family member in the event he or she is deceased would be able to reclaim the donation with the photo.
The Price of Freedom Museum is open every Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m., and Mault said he and Albright will open it at other times upon request. The facility is also available for organizations to use free of cost.
Mault said they’ll even set the tables up so everything will be ready.
Various veterans groups have used the museum for functions along with about 10 senior citizens groups.
Mault said five high school reunions have also been held at the old school.
Anyone interested in setting up a military memorabilia exhibit at Saturday’s event is asked to call Mault at 704-857-7474.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.