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Davis Journal

Bountiful Museum adds new veterans display

Nov 18, 2021 09:00AM ● By Becky Ginos

Gene Oakes and his family gather in front of his father’s uniform and memorabilia.

BOUNTIFUL—In honor of  Veterans Day, the Bountiful Museum & Learning Center dedicated a new exhibit Nov. 11 honoring those who served. The display will be added to the other historical artifacts depicting the heritage of Bountiful. 

Also during the ceremony, the Layton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8307 and their auxiliary rededicated a 1949 monument listing the servicemen from Bountiful who died in WWI and WWII followed by a military prayer, a 21 gun salute and Taps. The tribute included individually spotlighted white crosses with the veterans’ photos lining the museum grounds. 

“When they were making changes to the Bountiful Cemetery the monument was just laying on the ground,” said Museum Director Sandy Inman. “Shauna Knighton (board member) asked ‘can I take this?’”

Inman said Knighton researched all the names on the monument and found pictures and information to put on the crosses. “She did all the landscaping and flowers.”

The inside exhibit features uniforms from different branches of the service accompanied by personal stories and photos.

“When we were opening people were coming in saying ‘here’s this stuff I have can you use it?’” Inman said. “I thought I’d love to have an exhibit and as we got more uniforms, pictures and stories we summarized them and enlarged the photos. We’d like to rotate the memorial.”

Gene Oakes donated his father’s uniform and it is part of the display. “My dad passed away at 91,” he said. “His story is super interesting. The day after he graduated from high school he departed to serve in WWII. He trained to fly an airplane and drive a tank.”

When he arrived the battle was raging, said Oakes. “He was driving a tank and they were very slow. They drove day and night to get to the war. Cities were burning and there was tremendous bombing but they never actually caught up.”

They never actually fired the tank, he said. “The war was winding down but he finished his assignment to protect the area. Several months later he came home.”

This display is really special, Oakes said. “I can’t comprehend leaving right out of high school and the service he did. He was so unprepared to see scenes like this. It’s mind boggling.”

Lara Kasparian, a volunteer at the museum put the exhibit together using mannequins from the Wight House. “I worked at the Museum of People and Culture at BYU with the displays there,” she said. “I wanted to design this in a unique way.”

Families donated the uniforms and information, said Kasparian. “I condensed it to make it museum worthy. It was cool to get to know the man behind the uniform.” 

The museum is located at 305 N. Main. Hours are Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m. For other times call 801-296-2060 and leave a message.