Dirigo Stories: Curator breathes life into Maine Military Museum
SOUTH PORTLAND (WGME) -- 75 years ago an attack happened on American soil, as we remember the lives lost at Pearl Harbor, this week's Dirigo Stories introduces us to a man in South Portland working to remember Maine’s military history.
It’s a building off Broadway in South Portland with a story to tell and Lee Humiston hopes you hear it.
“All I care about now is telling a story, and having kids learn about it,” Humiston said.
It’s not just the story of the stuff, but the people who owned it.
“It’s 100 years old, there's not a moth hole or a nip in that uniform,” Humiston said. “This guy is a South Portland guy who was a POW in Germany.
At the Maine Military Museum, Humiston breathes life into the uniforms and artifacts from every war America ever fought.
“This museum's built on one word and one word only that is trust,” Humiston said.
It's trust that Humiston will take care of all the things donated to the museum and keep them in Maine.
“Everybody in here, has meaning to me personally,” Humiston said.
That includes the men who've helped him run the museum since it opened seven years ago.
Like Humiston, they're all volunteers and veterans.
“I refer to him as 'the wizard.' Lee's knowledge of things is astonishing and incredible,” Peter Kane, museum volunteer and army veteran, said.
Humiston’s memory is practically photographic.
“How do you keep all of this in your head?” CBS 13’s Jana Barnello asked.
“I don't know! My wife will tease me and say if I put my mind to making money the way I do for the memorization of this, I’d be a billionaire. But I wouldn't have any fun,” Humiston replied.
Humiston opens the museum for anyone who wants to visit; often visitors are veterans, looking for a piece of their own history, reflected in the faces of the others.
“It's all personal with him. No one can give a tour like Lee,” Jim Mardin, museum volunteer and WW II veteran, said.
Whether it's a tour or a moment to reflect alone, the group says this museum doesn't just educate, it heals.
“We've had guys come in here very bitter, and they leave free men,” Humiston said.
That's why Humiston says he'll never charge for a visit, since many have already paid a price.
“This is a rare, rare museum. There are millions of museums of stuff all over the world, all over the country, but this museum has a soul,” Humiston said.
A soul, and a story, just waiting to be heard.
The Maine Military Museum is open on the weekends during the winter, but Humiston says he will open it at any time during the week for anyone who wants to visit.