Patton Museum honors veterans, celebrates 25 years

Veterans Day event in Chiriaco Summit

Chiriaco Summit, Calif. - One of the largest Veterans Day ceremonies in the desert, happened way out in the desert.

Located thirty miles east of Indio along Interstate 10, some say the General Patton Memorial Museum feels like it's in the middle of nowhere. Look closer, and you'll see the museum sits at the center of an important piece of American history.

Planes from a distant era brought the past into clear view to begin the Veteran's Day ceremony that also marked the 25th anniversary of the Patton Museum. The event drew a crowd of hundreds to the town of Chiriaco Summit, easily outpacing the small desert city's population.

"My dad was a World War II Vet," Tim Kano said from the driver's seat of a 1945 U.S. Army jeep used in World War II. "He served in Italy. He saw a lot of combat. This helps me remember him. It helps pass on his memories."

Chiraico Summit was the headquarters of the Desert Training Center. Created in 1942, General Patton used it as the largest military training ground in history, preparing 1.8 million soldiers for combat in World War II.

"It just makes all of us proud to be a part of the General Patton Museum on this Veterans Day," Rep. Raul Ruiz said. "Where we can serve our veterans and remember all the great men and women who have sacrificed and given us so much of our freedoms and liberty."

An actor playing General Patton made an appearance during the festivities, and Patton's granddaughter, Helen, was the featured speaker and an award recipient.

"Obviously he (General Patton) did his job and he was inspired, but they did it," Helen Patton said in reference to the veterans. "So thank you all soldiers, who are soldiering on."

The General Patton Museum celebrates all branches of the military with remembrance walls for American conflicts. The new Korean War Wall was unveiled. More than 100 members of American Legion Chapter 53 out of Hemet were in attendance to see their names on the walls. 

"They had a ceremony and they're putting all of our names on the wall for Vietnam service and the Korean conflict," Roger Condon said.

This Veterans Day, November 11th, also happens to be General Patton's birthday. He was born in 1885 and died in 1945. The Patton Museum opened in 1988.

"We're very happy to do this year after year and grow," museum co-founder Margit Chiriaco Rusche said. "Continue to support the cause, which is preserving the history of the desert training center and the repository for those effects. As well as honor our American men and women veterans. It's a very important thing for all of us as you can see by the array of people that come, and have come for 25 years."

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