GRASS LAKE, Mich. (WLNS)—Bringing history to life. That’s what a group of volunteers led by Dennis Skupinski and Scott Gerych are doing at the Michigan Military Heritage Museum in Grass Lake.
“We wanted to preserve it so the younger generations can hear the stories,” said Skupinski.
From soldiers in the trenches of World War One to Michigan’s own decorated heroes, more than 30 mannequins fill the space dressed in their authentic uniforms.
“The young people what they did, what they did afterwards. It’s just an amazing amount of history,” said Gerych.
With a team of researchers and help from the community they are launching a new campaign called ‘Racism in the U.S Military’ with a mission to bring attention to the challenges some soldiers with ties to Jackson faced in their careers.
“Colonel Young at the time of World War One was the highest-ranking black army officer,” said Skupinski.”He was a colonel but once the war was declared he was declared medically unfit because some of the southern senators didn’t want a black officer leading a white officer.”
Colonel Young even rode his horse 500 miles to prove he was fit to fight.
“He wanted to be a role model and break the mold of a black officer to show people that yes the blacks could do just the same as the whites,” said Skupinski.
Despite roadblocks he went on to mentor other black soldiers. Some of whom went on to become generals. The museum hopes that by showing these stories up close people come away with one message for anyone looking to follow in the footsteps of these heroes.
“You can excel and you can achieve great heights you know within that structure regardless of race or color,” said Gerych.
The museum will also soon be moving into a new space in Jackson that will give them more room to tell even more stories.