Lack of Funds May Force Korean War Museum to Surrender Its Land

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A ground-breaking ceremony for the Korean War National Museum in Springfield, Ill., will no longer be taking place this summer – because the museum doesn’t have enough money even to start construction.

According to the museum website, the museum is “well short of financial and operational goals to break ground” due to “the recent economic downturn,” as well as leaders it says were “too optimistic” about their ability to raise funds.

Organizers are now desperately trying to fund the initiative to honor the aging vets before it is too late.

“It’s an effort and an organization that goes back to 1997,” Korean War National Museum Executive Director Ryan Yantis told

That was when Robert Kenney, the first president of the board, and his wife, Lorraine, opened up a small storefront in Tuscola, Ill.

"They had, as I understand it, been promised some funding from the state which didn’t materialize," said Yantis, a Korean War veteran.

Still, the museum gained enough private donations of items and artifacts that it outgrew the small town and was moved to the former Chanute Air Base in Rantoul, Ill.

“It was a nice little museum. The problem is, where’s Rantoul?" said Yantis. "It’s another small town, out in the middle of that southern central portion of Illinois. Difficult to find, difficult to get to, not in a heavily touristed area.

"So in 2008 they decided as they were growing in items and influence that they would move to Springfield and that they would get a plot of ground there and build an $18 million facility, and in the meantime they would open up another storefront museum, and that’s the Dennis J. Healy Freedom Center.”

The Freedom Center went up quickly and is open for business in Springfield with about 6,000 square feet of exhibits, but plans for the larger museum went south....

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