His promise evolved into her passion. The result for Ron and Barb McVaney is the Mountaineer Military Museum in Weston.
Ron and three of his friends were drafted into the army as war was raging in Vietnam. While he was assigned to Europe, his buddies were sent to Southeast Asia. They would not return alive.
McVaney made a solemn promise while serving as pallbearer. His friends would never be forgotten.
As a tribute, he began to accumulate military memorabilia. The collection would outgrow the McVaney house and then storage buildings. They decided to put the exhibit on display a decade ago, first in downtown Buckhannon and then relocating to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston. The Lewis County Board of Education has provided a more permanent home for the museum in a historic structure that was once the Weston Colored School.
"It's all about honoring our veterans," said Barb McVaney, an Upshur County school teacher. "It embraces all who served and sacrificed."
A museum highlight is the Hall of Heroes, which includes personal items such as uniforms and medals.
The collection has continued to expand with donations coming from across North Central West Virginia.
"People bring us things that belonged to someone in their family. It's a way to honor their family. It tells people's stories. I think that's one of the things that draw people to the museum. When you walk out of there, you feel as if you know those people."
The school system and county commission helped alleviate the cramped quarters last year with a 2,300 square-foot addition. Home Depot stores in Parkersburg and Bridgeport contributed drywall and paint and a work crew, but financial assistance is still required for heating, air conditioning and display cases.
The museum will host the annual Vet-Together event May 25.
"It's a day when veterans come to the grounds and tell stories," she said. "Young people like to listen, ask questions and we have a table set up where they can try on things such as a helmet."
The ‘get together' is held on the museum grounds, beginning at noon. Last year's event was attended by approximately 300 veterans. Visitors will also be able to see many various military vehicles and tour the numerous displays.
This year, the museum will have a special patriotic presentation on the Declaration of Independence.
Buckhannon author Michael T. George will share the exciting events that led to our nation declaring independence. George is the founder, president and CEO of PatriotHistory.org, an organization whose mission is to share the inspiring story of America.
He is currently working on an upcoming book, "My Story of America."Information on the book can be found at MyStoryofAmerica.com.
Mountaineer Military Museum is located at 345 Center Avenue in Weston. For details, call McVaney at 304-472-3943.