With the 2005 closure of the east-side Gobel-Lowden Veterans Center & Museum, and no action to revive it in sight, the Greenspun-Radin Jewish War Veterans Post 21 has taken it upon itself to see that a new museum is opened.
Post 21 member Sam Chinkes, 90, said he’s wanted to open a new one ever since the closure and is looking at possible locations.
“It’s a heck of a shame that we have two mob museums but none (to honor) all vets of all wars,” Chinkes said, “especially with Nevada having such a good (connection) to the military.”
At its December meeting, Post 21 created a special committee of five and tasked it with the ambitious goal of finding a new space and the funding to support it. The group does not have an exact figure in mind but said the project would probably cost at least $1 million.
The committee is looking for about 10,000 square feet to be donated, Chinkes said, adding that he planned to approach Strip properties for help. He said he would like Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson to support the museum.
“One of the ‘ins’ I have is that my wife is a Holocaust survivor, and he’s (Adelson) always treated us (Post 21) like kings, really. He could spare a couple million, which might earn enough interest to keep it running,” Chinkes said. “I’m going for the big money.”
The space could be anywhere, he said, perhaps in or near Summerlin — Chinkes said he also planned to approach the owners of Tivoli Village — or perhaps closer to the Strip so tourists would be more apt to visit.
He said the museum would house memorabilia from all military branches and all wars and military actions in which the United States was involved. Many of the items that were displayed in the former museum at 3333 Cambridge St. are available for this new venture, Chinkes said.
He said it would be run by volunteers and could be operational within a year if all goes smoothly.
“Getting material is the easy part,” Chinkes said. “Space is our No. 1 priority.”
Post 21 made an initial donation of $500, the maximum that it is permitted to make by law, to start the fundraising.
Post commander Marshall Sitrin said Post 21 has about 70 members, with the average age about 78. They have served in various wars — World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and Desert Storm.
The group plans to involve the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Catholic War Veterans in their effort, he said.
“I think there’s a lot of material around, a lot of veterans have stuff that they have (available),” Sitrin said. “We know there’s plenty of stuff out there; it’s just finding a place to put it.”
Why does Post 21 think its effort can form a viable museum that will thrive?
“We’ll give it a shot,” Sitrin said. “Truthfully, I think it’s something that’s needed … I don’t see why we can’t sustain it.”
He said one big benefactor would make a difference and that he’d like to see the location be off the Strip as most patrons would likely be locals.
“We’d like veterans to know that we are starting the project and we’re looking for contributions, so don’t throw this stuff away, don’t hide it. If we (receive it), we’ll preserve it for future generations,” he said.
Why is it important to have the museum?
“Because the new generation has to know what went before them, the lives that were sacrificed, the suffering they underwent … for the freedom they now enjoy,” Chinkes said.
Sitrin estimated that if everything goes well, the museum would be open within a year.
For more information, contact Chinkes at email@example.com.
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.