On Nov. 11, 2014 our Veterans Day Open House event at the Stahls Auto Museum was successful in more ways than just raising money for an excellent cause–we saw living proof of what the word camaraderie really means. Thousands of visitors came to spend the day with us and meet with veterans who were not shy about sharing their stories. Everyone felt connected and there was no shortage of tears of joy or feelings of pride. The atmosphere was energized with respect for all the veterans in attendance and it was truly a very special day that left a lasting impression on all of us. We couldn’t have anticipated the number of visitors and we were astounded at the handshakes and hugs we received, at the outpouring of thanks for hosting the event. Please know, it was OUR pleasure and honor! We are pleased to report we raised approximately $22,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project organization, but is difficult to describe in words the pride and honor we felt in being able to welcome so many veterans and their families. We had veterans from all service branches attend, many in their original uniforms, some dating back to World War II. It was especially heart-warming to see the veterans receive the recognition and thanks they deserved while at the event. Mary, the children and I are more than thrilled that the Stahls Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization created to preserve, restore, and exhibit specific vintage vehicles for educational purposes, has added a new dimension to our educational mission. This event was ideal for encouraging open discussion about history between the generations, and allowing veterans to share their stories, and we can’t wait to do it again next year. We were able to video-document many of the veterans oral history reports, which is significant in helping to preserve tiny bits of history that are sometimes lost when not recorded. We are humbled to be able to recognize veterans in this way. I would like to share a few of the comments that museum visitors shared on the Stahls Auto Museum Facebook page, such as this one from Ed Weichsler.
Ed Weichsler: “Words cannot express the gratitude this Vet has for your open house last evening. I find it impossible to conceive anything that could have been improved upon. The courtesy extended by your staff during the five hours of my visit was like a family gathering, it was that heartfelt. The USO videos had me spell bound and in tears. The visibility of Military vehicles among the giants of the industry’s famed marques was truly noticed. At ten minutes past six when I would have expected to be ushered out, there was no (closing time) push. It was a remarkable evening & I felt blessed to be there. God bless you for your incredible hospitality. We will be back!”
Ed, thank you for coming and thank you for sharing your sentiments. An additional special thanks to Roop Raj (for posting lots of great photos on Twitter @rooprajfox2) and FOX 2 Detroit for all your TV coverage, and The Detroit Arsenal of Democracy for spending the day with us. It truly was spectacular to see those magnificent military vehicles on display. We would also like to thank the folks at San Mar for their generous donation of shirts that were worn by our volunteer staff during the event. And last but not least, thank you to everyone that helped organize the event, as well as all the volunteers who were on hand to ensure that our guests felt at home. As we move into the holiday season, we are so grateful that we were able to share this day of thanks with our local area veterans. We are thankful and honored to have had the opportunity to get to know you all a little bit better. Thank you, thank you, thank you.