The H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum (an acronym which stands for “Helping Every American Remember Through Serving”) is a notable Texas institution containing personal mementos and war paraphernalia which has been donated by veterans and their families. Situated in Huntsville, the museum originally began as a window display in an antique store, honoring one Brigadier General in 1993. From there it became a compelling traveling school presentation by founding members of the concept, and over the years, through their dedication, obtained its permanent home with a grand opening ceremony appropriately held on Veterans Day in 2009. From the Civil War through to the most current conflicts, its purpose is to honor and recognize the people who have served to protect the country, preserve freedom, as well as secure it for others around the world.
Along with the exhibits and displays of flags, dress uniforms, military gear, patches, and medals, the facility also showcases letters written home by soldiers, journals that were kept in the midst of conflict, and books which have been written by military personnel on the horrors of war and sweetness of coming home, tainted somewhat by what’s been seen and experienced.
The magnitude of the collection in comparison to the space that houses it is quite impressive. Both World War I and II exhibits are quite extensive, including displays regarding women’s contributions in wartime. Represented by various W.A.C. uniforms and photos that document factory work, the donations of items from the World War II era, in particular, show things that were necessitated on the home front in order for those in battle to carry on. Almost as comprehensive is the collection from the Vietnam War, showing captured flags, soldiers’ memoirs, and photos of that time, among other items.
Seeing the memorabilia and reading their personal stories and accounts gives visitors to the H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum a more human touch to those items than simply walking through passively looking at something you wouldn’t normally feel a connection to. When the enormous sacrifices by these people for the safety and security of others are taken into account, it makes one stop and appreciate all they truly have as a result. What started out as a display in an antique shop window, grew to a traveling school exhibit, and finally to a permanent museum home, honoring the service of American veterans.