Teaching our history lessons

Published 10:16 am Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Montevallo is quickly making a name for itself across Alabama as a place to celebrate our veterans and remember their sacrifices for our country.

The Alabama National Cemetery, the final resting place for many of those veterans, makes its home in Montevallo, along with the American Village, which transports visitors back to the days of our country’s birth.

And now, the American Village is giving Montevallo another jewel in its crown with the National Veterans Shrine, a veterans’ living legacy project.

Appropriately, the American Village held the shrine’s groundbreaking on July 4.

The National Veterans Shrine, slated to open in late 2013, will be modeled after Philadelphia’s Carpenters’ Hall, which hosted the First Continental Congress in 1774 and was home to Benjamin Franklin’s Library Company, the American Philosophical Society and the First and Second Banks of the United States.

The shrine will feature a statue of a “heroic figure of liberty” holding a fallen soldier, symbolizing those who remember and mourn those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. However, the most important thing the shrine will give us is a register of honor, which will share photos, videos, biographies and stories of more than 100,000 veterans — both living and dead.

Through this project, anyone who visits the American Village will be able to see history as it’s unfolding. Imagine reading the story of an American soldier’s sacrifices and service and then looking up to realize that same soldier is standing across the room. With this project, that situation could very well happen.

The Veterans Register of Honor website will soon launch, allowing veterans and their families to register honorees and upload photographs, videos and short stories. The website will also allow visitors to search for honorees by name, hometown, branch of service and other criteria, while also featuring a directory of historical veterans sites.

If you are a veteran or have a veteran in your family, we urge you to make a record of any photographs and stories you may have. Those personal accounts are the best way to make sure we remember our history lessons.

Visit AmericanVillage.org for more information.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.