Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Letters to the Editor

August 30, 2013

War museum an ‘undiscovered gem’

— I am a native of Mercer County, a retired teacher, and one who has loved learning about my heritage here in the West Virginia hills; but it took a little prodding from a friend (a relocated Yankee no less) to lead me to what I now consider a true undiscovered gem of a destination right here in Princeton.

I’m speaking of the war memorial museum located in the Memorial Building in the downtown area across from city hall. On the second floor of this building is a small but dramatic little museum dedicated to residents of the county who have given their time, their hearts and sometimes their lives in our country’s wars, from the revolution through to the recent gulf wars.

We had the pleasure of being led through the exhibits by Mr. Tony Whitlow, who has been a force behind the creation and sustaining of the museum. His motivation came from growing up in the World War II and post-World War II eras here in Mercer County, and listening to relatives and acquaintances describe their experiences. At some point, spurred on by these stories told to him by his close relatives, he determined he would try to create a memorial in remembrance of their service.

Over the years, he has helped gather military memorabilia from all over the county, and the state, each with its own bit of history and dramatic stories. While the exhibits were interesting, it was the anecdotes told by Mr. Whitlow of local residents that truly brought the experience to life.

The most recent addition to the memorial is a memorial room, which lists the names of those who lost their lives in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict, and others. Research continues and additional listings will be added as lists are verified.

Whether you have been in the military, are from a family touched by military history, or are simply willing to learn a bit more about the brave souls who grew up here in Mercer County, I believe you will find your time there to be well spent.

Gail Harmon


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