Home of the Brave Museum seeks public support to stay open
A Kaka'ako museum dedicated to honoring WWII vets was in jeopardy of being forced to close its doors at the end of this year. But now, thanks to donations from the community, the Home of the Brave Museum will be able to stay in operation for at least the next couple of months.
KAKAAKO, Hawaii - A Kaka'ako museum filled with historical artifacts donated from World War II veterans will now be able to keep it's doors open for the next few months. The hidden gem had been on the verge of closing until supporters rallied to its defense.
"Like we say.. we don't want people to forget," Pearl Harbor Survivor John Mathrusse said.
Mathrusse has been a supporter of Honolulu's Home of the Brave since it's inception in 1991. He was on Ford Island the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, and is one of the few survivors left to tell their stories.
"It took me a long time to talk about it, but then I realized we've got to pass it on to future generations," Mathrusse said.
Mathrusse's story, along with more than 100,000 WWII veterans and Pearl Harbor Survivors live within the museum's walls. Many of the veterans that took the Home of the Brave tour in over the past decade, donated their WWII artifacts and memorabilia-- including photos, letters, uniforms and medals-- to help "always remember." Which is why Peal Harbor Survivors, veterans and even their loved ones hold this place near and dear to their heart. It's more than treasured memories that are on display at Home of the Brave -- it's history.
"This is a piece of history that you just don't find in your history books .. you would have to find somebody that was from December 7th, 1941 that can tell you firsthand.. well I'm sorry to say those numbers are dwindling," said Kathleen Farley, 1st District Director of Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors.
Farley says a majority of the Pearl Harbor Survivors from her district in the Bay Area have visited the museum and say their history is well-documented throughout the entire museum.
"I hope it's here for many, many years to come," she adds.
But recently, Home of the Brave was in jeopardy of fading into just a memory, after founder Glen Tomlinson says it appeared he'd have to shut it down.
"From the outside this looks like a million dollar operation, but the reality of paying rent-- we serve beer and cocktails upstairs.. in our little speakeasy upstairs, but the reality is we can't sell enough beverages to keep the lights on here," Tomlinson said.
According to Tomlinson, the museum used to generate a majority of its revenue from its military base tour program, but due to heightened security the tours had to be canceled. And with the combination no tours, plus the high cost of rent, he says it seemed as if Home of the Brave would have to close its doors by the end of this year.
"It's really hard to talk about... cause I thought we were going to lose this," he added. "These stories are just too important to lose."
Wasting no time, Tomlinson started a GoFundMe and held a fundraiser to help keep the museum in business. He says once the community got word of this hidden gem possibly closing, they quickly rallied together and donated enough to keep Home of the Brave open for now.
"So monetary donation were made through the GoFundMe page and and we had an anonymous donor kick in a substantial amount to really basically save the museum for the next few months," he said.
Several years ago, Tomlinson says Home of the Brave earned the title of "Honolulu's Best Kept Secret," but now he's hoping more people will discover this hidden gem and help keep it in business for years to come.
"Our goal is to work with various corporations.. different state entities, city county.. not only to get grant money, but get the word out," Tomlinson said.
"I appreciate it very much.. And I'm sure the other guys do to," Mathrusse added. "We don't want 'em to forget it. Keep it alive."
To donate to the Home of the Brave museum, click here.