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NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Below is the transcript for Monday’s Loving Living Local segment.
GRETCHEN: Welcome back to Loving Living Local. I’m Gretchen Wirtz, and today we’re getting local here in McLean County and talking a little bit about history. Joining us today is Norris Porter, who is the director of development at the McLean County History Museum. Thank you so much for joining us.
NORRIS: Well, thanks for having me.
GRETCHEN: Very excited. All right. So just remind everybody what you guys have over there in Bloomington and what you guys have on display and what you offer to the community.
NORRIS: Sure. The McLean County Museum of History is part of the McLean County Historical Society. It’s been around since 1892, and our mission is to preserve, educate and collaborate in sharing the diverse stories of the people of McLean County. So we try to reach out to the community and help to educate them and inform them about their past. And so we have five permanent exhibits. We have three temporary exhibits that are currently under construction on the third floor. We had a lot of Abraham Lincoln history and a lot of really central Illinois history.
GRETCHEN: Yes. Cruisin with Lincoln on 66. People love that stuff, too.
NORRIS: We get a lot of Route 66 visitors from all over the world.
GRETCHEN: Yeah. All right. So tell us about this World War Two Memorial that you’re restoring. Kind of how it came about and what you’re looking to do with it.
NORRIS: Sure. So the World War Two memorial was first dedicated in 1997 to memorialize about 336 soldiers names who gave their lives during World War Two. And it kind of surrounds a 1948 memorial fountain that was the first that the mothers of Pearl Harbor put in. And they did a good job. Georgia granite etched names and white paint. But paint goes away and over time, the names weren’t readable. So we had a couple from California actually last fall, about a year ago, that came to visit the museum. They had a wonderful visit. They said, we don’t have things like this in California, which I was kind of shocked by. They were moved by the memorial and they wanted to do something to make the names more readable. So we had lots of Zoom calls and came down to them giving about $84,000 in honor of our first professional director for the museum, Barbara Dunbar, who was director in the late eighties to the late nineties. And she really was the first professional director who moved as to accreditation. So now we have these very nice bronze tablets over the Georgia granite with raised lettering, and it’s truly astounding. So we’re going to have a rededication on November 5th. And it should be a lot of fun.
GRETCHEN: And you’re adding one more thing to it. You’re adding still something to it, or you’d like to still had something.
NORRIS: We have several things we’re adding. We’re going to add a bronze plate underneath the names where we had actually local laborers and painters that donated time to power, wash and paint underneath to draw attention to it. But the bronze tablet would say “honor, reflect and respect.” And then we’ve actually had conversations with local AMVETS, and they’re talking about adding two more bronze tablets on the southeast corner to create a walk of heroes, where we were to honor Vietnam and Korea and McLean County veterans that gave their lives. And if we can raise enough money, the idea is to build a website that would start to tell the story of McLean County in these conflicts and lift up specific soldier stories.
GRETCHEN: That sounds beautiful. That’s great. And we are always still looking for donations. How can people donate and help out?
NORRIS: People can donate by using the QR code that you will share as well as going to emcee history dot org. What we’re trying to do is raise additional matching dollars. These donors that gave as this wonderful gift are willing to give us 25,000 more additional dollars if we can match it with donations from the community. And we’ve been working hard on identifying lots of other projects. And so we have between now and the end of the year to raise $25,000.
GRETCHEN: All right. We need your help to do that. Let’s get that matching money. Thank you so much for sharing your story and telling us about all the updates that are going on over there. And again, go to the website and get your dollars in there. MCHistory.org or click on the QR Code. Norris, thank you so much for coming by, and good luck at the unveiling.