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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Grand Opening. Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum

Grand Opening. Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum

For a fuller experiance single click on the top video on my side bar. You know the one with the pretty girl. lower the vol. on your computer to your comfrot level and enjoy reading my blog.

Click on pics to enlarge.

Saturday had the makings for a nice day. The oppressive heat wave had lifted, and there was a breeze in the air. As I got closer to the Muskegon Lake Channel the lake breeze was refreshing. A perfect day to help celebrate what so many people in Muskegon had been working for years to put on; efforts of which I’m sorry to say I was not a part; and something I was only vaguely aware of. The Grand Opening of “The Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum” heralded this effort.


This was pulled off through the selfless efforts of lots of people. This was an example of a community pitching in their time talent and money behind the scenes to make something nice for Muskegon, it not only is educational in the “museum” sense of the word; but helps show future generations the respect and honor in which we hold those who helped preserve our way of life in such courageous fashion.

As I say, I played no part in this and that I hope will change in the future.
The event celebrated the Grand Opening of this building which serves to hold a museum as a memorial to the two ships Muskegon has on display at South side of the Muskegon Channel. More than that, the museum is filled with graphic laden pectoral partitions leading one through a display filled path winding within the structure; taking one back to a different time. Nostalgia is everywhere.

The displays are instructive but when viewed along this winding corridor through the past, one gets a feeling of what it must have been like to live during those times when the nation was at war.

A couple of strikingly large commissioned art pieces add to the feeling of those times. Below is one of them.

The building was christened The Robert G. Morin, Sr. Facility. The building has a library and gift shop, along with a convention center and a 72 seat theatre. Tours are offered as well as group overnight visits. This is quite a community resource.

The event Saturday started with tours of the submarine USS Silversides, and the Coast Guard Cutter the USS Mclane. These boats were the actual boats that fought and served in WWII. They are both moored alongside the South side of the Muskegon Channel. I arrived as they were serving hotdogs and stuff. The line was long and friendly as were the tables spread around.

The “Opening Crermony” took place on the deck of the USS Silversides our own WWII submarine. Chairs and bleachers held the crowd. Lots of the major players responsible for the Museum were on hand, I cannot list them only to say that there were many. A check of the linked site above lists on the side bar the most influential ones.

Local Dignitaries were on hand and included State Senator Jerry Van Woerkom who introduced Congressman Pete Hoekstra. In the backdrop of the podium was the channel and boats sailing past.

As Congressman Hoekstra took the podium and began his speech, it dawned on me he was speaking without notes and not a teleprompter was in sight. Of the times I’ve heard him talk this seemed the most animated. When he referenced this as an example of voluntary community service free of government entanglements he was on a roll. As he talked of how the building and even the ships were but only symbols of the respect the community had for the people that served on them and helped keep our country free; Pete was talking from the heart; freely and without aid.

As I was sitting and listening I happened to be sitting next to an original crew member of the USS Silversides, we started talking. His name was Gordon L. Hiatt who later told me a fascinating story about his time on board the Silversides. He and his wife are pictured below.

Mr. Hiatt told me of how a Japanese submarine surrendered to the Silversides and that a crew from the Silversides had to pilot the Japanese ship into port on Armistice Day. A Japanese crew was not allowed for obvious reasons. He said he was one of three left that crewed the Japanese boat. Mr. Hiatt also said that this particular sub had two airplane launchers (catapults) fore and aft with a compliment of three planes. He claimed that this boat was going to bomb the Panama Canal. I was glad I met this man.

As the ceremony ended people were mingling exchanging stories and friendships. Below is a picture of the crowd and Pete talking to different people; among them Jim Riley fellow Muskegon blogger and also John and Susie Hughes who played a crucial role in making this all possible. Hughes builders cut costs to make this a financial possibility. Susie too is Vice Chair of the Muskegon County Republican Party.

As things were ending I got this picture of Pete giving his thanks and respect to Robert G. Morin after whom the facility was named and who I’m told was a prime mover.

Regards, Live Dangerously Be A Conservative.

2 comments: said...

Very cool!


live dangerously said...

Thanks Nick.

Mike Cox is coming to the HQ for breakfast Tues morn. He will be doing an interview also later with me. I'll say hi.

Regards, Live Dangerously Be A Conservative