The Price of Freedom Museum | NC Weekend | UNC-TV


>>>FOR GENERATIONS, NORTH
CAROLINA HAS BEEN ON THE FRONT LINES IN DEFENDING FREEDOM AND
PROTECTING OUR COUNTRY WITH THOUSANDS OF VETERANS DEPLOYING
FROM MAJOR INSTALLATIONS LIKE CAMP LEJEUNE AND FORT BRAGG. IT’S THIS SACRIFICE THAT
INSPIRED A RURAL SERVICE STATION OWNER TO CREATE A SHRINE TO HIS
HOMETOWN HEROES. BRYAN MIMS TAKES US TO ROWAN
COUNTY.>>BY DAY, AND HE WORKS LONG
DAYS, BOB MAULT PUMPS GAS AND FUELS CONVERSATION.>>OKEY-DOKEY.>>ALL RIGHT. THANK YOU.>>THANK YOU, SIR.>>HE SELLS LOCALLY MADE
CHEERWINE BY THE LITER, TOMATOES BY THE DOLLAR, COUNTRY HAM BY
THE SLICE, AND COCA-COLA BY THE COLD BOTTLE. HE KEEPS A ’66 PLYMOUTH FURY ALL
SHINY IN THE BAY AND A FADED OLD GLORY UNFURLED OVER THE MOTOR
OIL. BOB MAULT’S SERVICE STATION HERE
AT THE FORK OF HIGHWAYS 152 AND 153, WEST OF CHINA GROVE, IS
ITSELF A RELIC. BY NIGHT —
>>JUST ME AND THE OLD FLOORS CRACKIN’, YOU KNOW.>>– HE SURROUNDS HIMSELF BY
RELICS INSIDE A SCHOOLHOUSE BUILT DURING THE DEPRESSION,
GETTING LOST IN HISTORY AND HEROISM.>>I DECORATE, AND THEN I SET
DOWN AND PRAY A LITTLE BIT, AND THEN I GET UP AND GO TO WORK
AGAIN.>>BOB MAULT IS 80 YEARS OLD. HE’LL TELL YOU HE WORKS 80 HOURS
A WEEK AT THE SERVICE STATION. WHAT HE DOES IN THE OLD
SCHOOLHOUSE AFTER HOURS ISN’T SO MUCH WORK AS IT IS AN ACT OF
LOVE. HE SEES SO MUCH REFLECTED IN
THESE SCRUFFY WOODEN FLOORS.>>WHEN I POLISH THE FLOORS,
SEEING THE SCARS REMINDED ME OF WORLD WAR II, THE DEPRESSION,
AND — AND, UH –>>THE REFLECTIONS CAN RENDER
TEARS. ON THE WALLS OF THE LONG-CLOSED
PATTERSON SCHOOL ARE WINDOWS OPEN TO A PANORAMA OF AMERICAN
VALOR. FACES PEER BACK AT YOU, SOME
SMILING AND YOUTHFUL, OTHERS STOIC AND FORCEFUL. THEY’RE ALL THE FACES OF LOCAL
SONS AND DAUGHTERS WHO WENT OFF TO FIGHT THE NAZIS OR THE VIET
CONG OR THE TALIBAN.>>THE BIGGEST ENJOYMENT OF THAT
IS WHEN A CHILD WILL RUN UP TO A PHOTOGRAPH AND SAY, “THAT’S MY
GRANDDADDY.”>>BOB MAULT HAS A NAME FOR THIS
PLACE, THE PRICE OF FREEDOM MUSEUM. THERE’S A ROOM DEVOTED TO EACH
BRANCH OF THE MILITARY. IT ALL STARTED IN HIS SERVICE
STATION IN 1974. A VETERAN GAVE HIM A UNIFORM TO
HANG UP AS A CONVERSATION PIECE.>>AND THEN WHEN PEOPLE WOULD
COME IN, THEY’D SAY, “WHAT’S THAT DOING UP THERE?” AND I WOULD TELL THEM, AND
THEY’D SAY, “WELL, HOW ABOUT ME BRINGING MINE?”>>HE HAD HIMSELF AN
EVER-EXPANDING COLLECTION OF UNIFORMS, AND AFTER NEARLY 30
YEARS, HE WAS BURSTING AT THE SEAMS. HE ALSO HAD PICTURES AND PAPERS
AND PARAPHERNALIA OF ALL SORTS. WORLD WAR II RADIOS TO MODERN
MRE’S.>>WELL, I’VE NEVER ASKED FOR
ANY OF IT OR BOUGHT ANY OF IT.>>REALLY.>>NOTHING.>>SO ALL THIS WAS DONATED.>>DONATED.>>IN 2006, THE ROWAN COUNTY
SCHOOL BOARD ALLOWED MR. MAULT FOR A $1 CHARGE TO MOVE INTO THE
PATTERSON SCHOOL, WHICH HAD BEEN USED BY THE DISTRICT FOR STORAGE
SPACE. NOW ALL ROWAN COUNTY FIFTH
GRADERS ARE REQUIRED TO VISIT THE MUSEUM. MORE THAN 8500 KIDS HAVE TOURED
IT IN THREE YEARS.>>I WANT THEM TO KNOW THAT WHAT
FREEDOM THEY ARE USING NOW WAS MADE BY LIVES THAT WERE GIVEN.>>MR. MAULT WAS ONLY 8 YEARS
OLD WHEN WORLD WAR II STARTED. BUT HIS FOUR OLDER BROTHERS,
SHOWN IN THESE PHOTOS, WERE ALL SENT TO BATTLE.>>AND I REMEMBER ALL DURING THE
WAR, I’D BE WAITING ON THE MAILMAN IN THE MORNING TO SEE IF
WE GOT A LETTER FROM THEM. NOW, THREE OF THEM WAS MISSING
AT DIFFERENT TIMES DURING THE WAR.>>HIS BROTHERS DID COME HOME. THIS MUSEUM IS THEIR LITTLE
BROTHER’S WAY OF SALUTING THEIR SERVICE AND THE SERVICE OF OTHER
HOMEGROWN WARRIORS. MR. MAULT ISN’T FINISHED. HE’S WORKING ON A DO YOU
REMEMBER ROOM WITH PHOTOS AND FURNITURE, EVEN PERMANENT WAVE
MACHINES FROM THE ’40s AND ’50s, ALL DONATED.>>OH, SOMEONE ASKED ME SUNDAY,
SAID, “WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS MUSEUM IS DOING FOR THE
COMMUNITY?” I SAID, “IT’S CLEANING OUT THE
ATTICS, THE BASEMENT, AND THE CLOSETS.” [LAUGHTER]
“AND TEACHING THE CHILDREN.”>>COME BY ON A SUNDAY
AFTERNOON, AND YOU CAN SEE A VIETNAM-ERA JEEP OR A SEARING
PHOTO OF THE USS ARIZONA ON A CERTAIN INFAMOUS SUNDAY MORNING. YOU CAN SEE ALL THIS BECAUSE OF
A MAN WHO KEEPS LONG HOURS AND WHO HAS A BIG HEART FOR THOSE
WHO PAID THE CONSIDERABLE PRICE OF FREEDOM. FOR “NORTH CAROLINA WEEKEND,”
I’M BRYAN MIMS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *