Tour of the U.S. Military Veterans Center Station Three: The Eric D. Hillenburg Museum

Welcome to the Eric D. Hillenburg Museum. At the center of the photo is a monument which summarizes the loss of this Marine in action at Falluja, Iraq. Take note of the date of death inscribed on the face of the monument, then zoom in on the snapshot at the base of the photo. Lance Corporal Hillenburg was killed in action two days before Christmas, 2004. The snapshot is the last known photograph of Corporal Hillenburg and was taken 21 December, 2004.

To the left of the monument is an Information Post. Click on it to open a page of websites that provide more information about Lance Corporal Hillenburg. As we saw at the Memorial Garden, some gave all.

Inside the Museum we have placed historic recruiting posters on display to the left, and military art to the right. As you enter the museum, you will also see a display of our nation’s founding documents, the United States Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. Nearby is another information post which will open a web page at the National Archives which tells about our nation’s founding documents.

Each member of the United States armed forces swears an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. It is indeed fitting and proper that they should be displayed in view of a monument to a man who upheld his oath with his own life.

Upstairs in the Museum you will find the Charter Members Display, including a photo frame containing five portraits, one for each of our five charter members. These individuals founded the U.S. Military Veteran group as well as the U.S. Military Veterans Center which is the group’s headquarters. You will see their names again inside the Veterans Information and Learning Center at the Information/Help Desk.

As you continue to the right of the Charter Members Display you see an array of photo frames, one for each of the five armed services, containing Second Life portraits of our group members. In addition, a sixth frame has been provided for those group members who wish to contribute photographs of their active duty service. Each individual who qualifies for membership in the U.S. Military Veteran group becomes a part of history in this ground-breaking effort to provide information, support, outreach and services to veterans, active duty service members and their families.

You will also see a rectangular frame off to one side. This frame was created for a real life snapshot that didn’t display correctly in the square frame format. An information post has been provided to give a notecard to those visitors interested in learning more about this veteran, HONDO Slade, who inadvertently set off the chain of events that would result in the construction of the Veterans Center and the creation of the U.S. Military Veteran group in Second Life.

Incredibly, the U.S. Military Veterans Center began with two friends–HONDO Slade, and his companion Asdzaa Oh who created a group so HONDO could wear “U.S. Navy Vet” over his head on a tag. Neither he nor Asdzaa foresaw the cascade of events that would follow this simple act.

When you look at HONDO’s portrait, remember that great things can come of seemingly simple, insignificant acts. As our group membership increases, so does the potential for others to become an exponential influence for the cause of the U.S. Military Veteran. This all started because of one man. And now we number in the hundreds, each making a seemingly small difference.

Consider that our example has confirmed to two of the national Veteran Service Organizations–Disabled American Veterans and The American Legion–that Second Life is a powerful way to reach out to vets. Disabled American Veterans has built and maintains six regions, or sims, in Second Life, featured in the May/June 2008 issue of DAV Magazine.

What if HONDO had not asked Asdzaa to make him the tag? Or if Asdzaa had not immediately set out to learn how to fulfill HONDO’s request to show others in Second Life that he is a veteran? Would Cowboy Wayne have recognized HONDO as a fellow vet and been inspired to build a headquarters for the group? Would the national IT department staff of Disabled American Veterans have discovered the power of Second Life had they not discovered the Veterans Center and the little band of friends–including HONDO who is in real life a member of DAV–who began building it? At the time, these small developments seemed so ordinary, but now have the looks of history, for they are at minimum a part of DAV history, having been briefly mentioned in their national magazine.

Each of you has thus become a part of that history by participating in the U.S. Military Veteran group. And each of you no doubt will someday learn that your supposed insignificant influence in fact made all the difference in the world to someone else. Look around at the Veterans Center…just one example of the result of insignificant actions.

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