The Transylvania Times -

WNC Military History Museum Celebrates One Year In Current Home


August 2, 2018

Western North Carolina Military History Museum at 21 E. Main St. in Brevard. Open Wednesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.

(This is part one of a three-part update on Brevard's WNC Military History Museum as it approaches its one-year anniversary at 21 East Main Street (beside the courthouse). Each part of this series will focus on one aspect of the museum's mission: Honor, Educate, and Preserve.)

Part I: Honoring Our Veterans

"Honor" Update:

•Since opening in Brevard, the Western North Carolina Military History Museum has had more than 8,000 visitors tour the museum.

•In 2018, the museum's Michel Robertson published the personal stories of 14 Vietnam Veterans in the Transylvania Times, with more to come this year.

•Nine World War II veterans were honored in the museum on D-Day, 2018. More than 100 people heard the stories told by two veterans who were at Normandy for the D-Day invasion.

•Family members and friends have purchased 165 plaques for the museum's Honor Wall to honor veterans and active service members.

The Museum Honors Alice Bertha Burns, Who Served in WAVES in WWII

In 1942, Alice Bertha Burns, now age 100 plus 9 months, joined the U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). Born in Wichita, Kan. on Oct. 27, 1917, she had just finished college with a major in home economics. But after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, she wanted to do something to help her country, so she joined up.

"Everyone was joining up," she said. "I wasn't married, and I thought it was the right thing to do."

Burns became a secretary and was stationed in San Francisco and in Chicago. She wasn't asked to go overseas.

"Women didn't go overseas back then," she remembered. "Some of the men kind of resented that they had to go overseas, but the women didn't. I think they started sending women overseas about the time the war ended, and that's when I resigned. I was getting married. I was a lieutenant when I got out."

Burns' husband, Dishman Burns, was in the Army and served in India (see photo).

Asked if she liked being in the WAVES, Burns smiled.

"Yes, I did like it," she said. "The people I worked with were nice. I did clerical work for the officers. And I liked the uniform. It was Navy blue, of course. It had stripes," she said, gesturing toward her wrist. "The uniform was a skirt and a jacket - women weren't allowed to wear slacks back then. But I liked wearing the uniform. It kind of set you apart, you know."

Burns taught school in Montgomery County, Md. She also taught for 2 years in Indonesia. She has lived for many years in Transylvania County with her niece and nephew. She moved to Tore's home in Brevard in June of this year.

Museum's Birthday


Western North Carolina Military History Museum at 21 E. Main St. in Brevard. Open Wednesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.

Everyone is invited to help celebrate the first "birthday" of the museum on Saturday, Aug. 25 by attending a dinner/dance at the Connestee Club House at 6 p.m. Tickets are $65 per person, which includes a five-course Italian dinner and dancing to the '60s and '70s music of the Blake Elledge Band. This fundraiser supports Blue Ridge Honor Flight and Veterans Healing Farm as well as the museum.

The Blue Ridge Honor Flight takes veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the war memorials erected in their honor. The Veterans Healing Farm offers veterans a place to build relationships, grow their own food, and donate food to other veterans and their caregivers.

For tickets, visit the museum at 21 East Main Street (beside the courthouse) Wednesday - Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information call (828) 884-2141.


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