By Chas Henry
I found this veterans museum by accident recently—following a small sign at the end of a highway turnoff in the Carolinas.
It sits at a quiet neighborhood intersection in Warsaw, North Carolina, in a home built in 1894.
“We’re small, but we honor all veterans in Duplin County,” Earl Rouse, curator of the Duplin County Veterans Memorial Museum, said.
The museum, he noted, is one of a number of ways the area displays pride in its residents’ military service, which dates back to the American Revolution.
“We run the longest consecutive running Veterans Day celebration in the United States,” Rouse said, “since 1921.”
Alongside old uniforms and military mementos tied to vets from the area, the museum features a thick directory, each page secured in a plastic protector.
“There is eight thousand, eleven names on that roll,” Rouse tallied.
More than a half dozen of those on the list served as general officers.
Rouse works hard to ensure that the list documents every county resident who served in uniform. But he admits it is not complete—in some measure because many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans don’t yet seem eager to be counted.
“It’ll be years down the road,” muses Rouse, “about like Vietnam. It took 25 to 30 years for some of these guys to even start talking about it. Now we end up in the 50th year, and they—some of ‘em—still won’t talk about it.”