Missouri National Guard Hall of Fame plans to celebrate its first class of inductees and welcome visitors to its new home in Kirksville on October 1, 2021.
John Sastry is the founder of the hall of fame and chairman of its five-member board. The project began when, as a guardsman who had served in the 128th Field Artillery Regiment based out of Kirksville, Sastry wanted to nominate a commanding officer and learned the honor did not exist in Missouri.
“The Guard explained that it had been talked about for a number of years but had just been bogged down by politics. They recommended that it would take a long time politically to get one established and they said ‘If you have a strong desire to have a National Guard Hall of Fame, why don’t you do it as an independent organization?” Sastry said.
The founding board decided that since politics can come into play, this hall of fame is neither funded nor overseen by local or state government.
“We don’t want politicians telling us has to be in the hall, we don’t want high-ranking people from any branch of the military telling us who would be in the hall. We want it to truly be merit-based,” Sastry explained.
That was one of the reasons the new headquarters will be in Kirksville. Sastry says many cities across Missouri welcomed the idea, but only Kirksville said yes immediately, with no bureaucratic or legislative hurdles.
Kirksville is the home of Sastry’s alma mater, Truman State. It’s also the alma mater of the legendary WWI General John J. Pershing. In the Civil War, the Union won the Battle of Kirksville in 1862.
Sastry said the town and its enthusiastic response “seemed like a natural fit.’
“The director of the Adair County Historical Society has given us a commitment to locate us for the first two years. If we do our job, in electing good classes of candidates and inductees and putting the word out about our organization, a permanent home will work itself out.”
Sastry says they are seeking financial support for the new Hall of Fame—and nominations to its inaugural class. Learn more.
“To recognize members going back to the days of the Missouri State Militia, which was established in 1862, and then move forward with the Missouri Army National Guard and the Missouri Air Guard, all three, to find folks that were overlooked, not to duplicate an award; it’s to find the magnitude of what they did.”
The group is raising funds for the October 1 awards and future exhibits to memorialize the inductees, exemplary citizen-soldiers in Missouri.
“I think this is the right place at the right time and I think people are looking for good news. We have the momentum now to make this happen,” Sastry said.