BAY CITY (WJRT) - (07/12/18) - Downtown Bay City is now home to the Michigan Traveling Military Museum.
Museum Director Mel Smith has been collecting military items for about 35 years, and is now sharing those items with the community.
"It's a life long dream, something I've been wanting since I was a kid," Smith said.
The items on display date all the way back to the late 1890's. "We have a lot of stuff from the Spanish-American War, lot from World War I and World War II," Smith said.
Many of the items are from Bay City or Michigan veterans.
Smith said his love of the military began with his father, who was a WWII veteran.
Together they watched military movies, but it grew into more. "As it grew, you know bought surplus and played war, play with G.I. Joe's. Just basically always loved military history."
While Smith likes to collect the items, he loves the stories that go with them.
As veterans stop by this museum at the corner of Washington and Center in Bay City, he's learning so much more.
"Lot of this is really a big part of a person's life, when you go overseas and you get involved with all these terrible, crazy things. And when they come they like to kind of share it, and a lot of the folks really, they want the history to live on," Smith said.
As for his favorite item, Smith said he can't pick just one. "Just everything we add, we're happy to have, and you know there's just so many favorites. So many interesting things to look at at talk about."
Having grown up with a veteran, in a much different time, he hopes this museum will help the next generation with a very important history lesson.
"One of our main focuses, or goals, is to get younger people interested because they're not getting the teaching of the wars like we did, I did when I was a young man," Smith said.
The museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special times are available for groups.
It is free to get in, but of course donations are gladly accepted.