David Griffin has made collecting armed forces memorabilia a passion project.
Griffin has been collecting memorabilia for “almost all his life”, and his work is about to pay off — again — as the Buckley Foothills Historical Museum is unveiling a new veterans exhibit on Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 11 and 12.
A similar exhibit was put on display back in 2017, but Griffin’s collection has grown since then, and he needed a new space to showcase various military garb, medals, weapons, and more — much of it owned, or even used, by Plateau locals.
Luckily, the museum was able to move the items it was storing in the upstairs of the building to a room in Buckley Hall, opening up that space for the brand-new exhibit, thanks to a state grant a few year ago.
Griffin was clear, climbing up the steep steps of the museum, that he didn’t curate the exhibit to glorify war, but to honor those who found purpose in the armed forces, on the front lines or in the back.
“I think everybody who served, served with a purpose, and that was to defend our country,” Griffin, a former British Royal Air Force munitions specialist who served during the Gulf War, said. “And I think that’s honorable, more than honorable, no matter what their job was.”
Items on display range as far back from the 1850s, exemplified by a light blue uniform at the very entrance of the exhibit, when the Buckley/Bonney Lake area hosted Fort Hays, built in 1856 to provide white settlers refuge during the Indian War.
Next to that is the uniform of Byron Albro, who served in the Civil War before becoming a constable in Buckley.
“He was held in Andersonville, [a] Confederate prison,” Griffin said; Andersonville is also known as Camp Sumter.
Then down the line is the Purple Heart of Corporal John Abraham, a Wilkeson resident who served in World War I, and the various medals of Vernon Vesey, a local man who served on the USS Curtis in Hawaii during Pearl Harbor.
That’s only a sampling of the local names on display at the museum, which continues on through the modern day with the Marines uniform of Buckley Senior Center Coordinator Chloe Mickelson.
Various weapons — all replicas, of course — models, flags, and other military gear are also displayed, including an Army recipe book on how to cook scalloped potatoes with ham and other meals.
And what’s on display now is expected to rotate out with other items Griffin has collected in the future.
“We have more uniforms,” he said, patting a storage drawer below a glass case. “Many, many more uniforms.”
Griffin continues to actively collect military memorabilia in order to expand the exhibit — he’s very hopeful that he can eventually have a full display for women who served in the military.
If you have any memborabilia to donate to the exhibit, you can contact Griffin through the museum at 360-829-1291 or email@example.com.
The museum will be open on Nov. 11 and 12, from noon to 4 p.m., for this event, though the display will be open during regular operating hours (noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays).