During the past several years, the Veterans Heritage Museum has been looking for a place to call home. Todd Crooks, founder and volunteer since its inception 15 years ago, has simple requests – 1,000 square feet for the artifacts and a $100,000 budget for one staff member and any bills.
“I have met so many guys [and gals], orphans and widows, that are torn apart and get [expletive],” Crooks said. “In Seattle, it’s just never been a big priority to honor veterans and that is exactly the problem.”
Other major regions in the nation have veterans museums, including the Detroit area, the Washington DC area and New York City area. However, the closest veterans museum to Seattle is more than 80 miles south in Centralia.
“Veterans are not the type to jump up and say ‘build me a museum.’ It’s a matter of priority,” Crooks said. “It drives me nuts, some of the things we spend money on – and I’m asking for $100,000 for a few years to get this rolling.”
The Veterans Heritage Museum is about honoring and thanking those who answered the call to stand watch, whether they lived or died in service to their country, because veterans are everywhere.
Since 1776, people have risen up in defense of this nation. Even today, there are members of the community who have served or perished while serving.
Bothell Fire Commissioner and Kenmore resident Jack Van Eaton, served and was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. Bothell resident and local author, Bob LaRiviere, was knighted for his serve at The Bulge, but went on to keep the German U-Boats tucked away at Saint Nazaire in France.
Stephen Bettinger, second husband of Logsdon building owner Lynn Logsdon-Bettinger, was an ace fighter pilot who was shot down only moments after shooting down his fifth enemy in aerial combat.
“I hear my own grandchildren – they don’t have any concept of military, they have no idea what was done,” said Logsdon. “It seems to me that so many young people don’t know or care much about what happened and I think the apathy is hard to see.”
Logsdon’s first husband was in the Merchant Marines during WWII and her second husband was in WWII and the Korean War. Even for her, she learned something from the window display at the Bothell Main Street Antiques with the Navajo Code Talkers, whose coded communications from members of the Navajo tribe were instrumental in defeating the Nazi regime.
“I think many of us would say we’d like to see [youth] away from the internet and we’ve gotta have things where they can go and visually see things,” Logsdon said.
However, Bothell’s ties to veterans aren’t always so historic. Bothell has bled in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, too.
On Sept. 9, 2008, 1st Lt. Nicholas Madrazo died after a roadside bomb detonated under his Humvee during combat operations in the Parwan province of Afghanistan and will soon have a new park named after him.
“As big as King and Snohomish county is, you need a place where people can go and get a real painful education about some of the really horrible things [veterans] have been through, whether they were drafted or volunteered to go through it,” Crooks said.
Madrazo is currently laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC. He was killed at the age of 25.
To help supporting the Veterans Heritage Museum, please contact local city, county and state officials to ask for their assistance in the matter. Todd Crooks is also going to be at both the July 13 and 20 Bothell Council meetings, with an emphasis on the July 20 meeting.
“I think while there’s still a few old veterans around, it would be a good time to show honor to them,” Logsdon said. “What would be wrong with a field trip to go down and walk through a museum in your neighborhood?”