Command Sergeant Major Joseph Keirn has dedicated 35 years of service to our country.
Now the veteran from Altoona is serving history, opening a World War II museum with Saint Francis University.
“This is their legacy,” explained Keirn. “I want them to see their legacy goes on and that’s why I donated all of this to them because all these young kids around here will be exposed to this otherwise some of them would never even what the war was.”
Keirn collected several items over the years from 1940’s candy bars, Nazi propaganda, uniforms.
Saint Francis University President Father Malachi Van Tassel says the university wants to share it all.
“Into the community, to elementary schools, middle schools, to tell the various stories that are involved with the different artifacts. So they’re able to give history lessons and incorporate some of the items from the museum simultaneously<‘ he explained.
With about a thousand historic pieces, it’s difficult to pick a favorite item.
“My D for Dog book which I have,” remembers Keirn, “Which Sergeant Jack Kuhn who was police chief in Altoona gave me three days for he passed away and he signed it.”
Every item has a story to tell.
“That’s one thing about my museum,” explained Keirn. “It’s a museum of individuals where I can go down and tell you where this man was, what he did, it’s a personal museum.”
Folks at the museum also want to share other local histories. They’re asking folks to stop by or to share their story on their history board.
“We want people to come and do oral history interviews or just write down their stories or memories even if it’s memories of their brother, mother family member we want to collect all of that,” said Dr. Sarah Myers the director of the Keirn World War ll Museum.
For Keirn, Veterans Day was the perfect day dedicate the museum with local World War ll veterans in the crowd.
“To be able to honor them and have Vince Hagg and the other ones here with me, it’s an honor I can’t even explain,” said Keirn.
The museum is located at 160 Saint Mary Street in Loretto.
It’s open 1pm to 4pm Wednesday and Friday appointment.
For more information, head over to their website.