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story.lead_photo.caption In this October 2, 2016 photo, German re-enactors show off World War I relics outside the Museum of Missouri Military History at the museum's second annual Military History Weekend. Around 2,000 people came to the event, which featured an open house at the museum, period re-enactors and free food. Photo by Gerry Tritz / Fulton Sun.

If any more people discover the Missouri Military Museum, people will have to stop calling it a "hidden" gem — and that would be fine with the museum's director.

"People say that," Director Charles Machon said of the "hidden gem" reference. But he said marketing efforts through the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Facebook and events such as the one this weekend have led more and more people there.

The museum expanded to 7,000 square feet of space at a new location at the Ike Skelton Training Center, just a few miles east of town, nearly two years ago. This weekend, it saw one of its largest weekend crowds, with around 2,000 visitors.

Machon said the event was designed to teach the public about not only the American military, but other countries' military histories.

People from from across the state to the museum's second annual Missouri Military History Weekend to see displays at the museum but also military re-enactors with authentic period weapons and military equipment outside the museum. Jefferson City's VFW Post 1003 offered free burgers and hot dogs to the attendees.

Re-enactors covered Germany during World War I and World War II, as well as collectors of Japanese military regalia.

The event got the approval of Harold Markway, an area World War II veteran who served overseas on a Navy destroyer during World War II. 

He said he liked the interactivity of the displays.

"It's really great," Markway said, as he walked between displays. "I pretty much like everything I've seen, and the way they talk to you and explain things to you, it's really nice."

Markway's ship wasn't involved in any battles during the war, but he was able to tour Hiroshima and Nagasaki shortly after the bombings on those cities that led to the end of the war.

Although the museum doesn't have much in the way of naval artifacts, the Navy veteran said the displays still bring back memories because his brothers served in other branches of the military.

"I like a lot of what they do," said Xavier Whalen, a Jefferson City High School sophomore who visited the museum on Sunday. 

"It's very interesting, and good to see people have a passion for the history behind it."

He got interested in World War II history through a video game, and is currently taking a German II class at JCHS.

Whalen spoke at length to Jason Derocher, a German "Heer" (Army) re-enactor with the 29th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, based in Jefferson City/Fulton.

Derocher, who does both American and German re-enacting, is on active duty with the U.S. Air Force at Whiteman Air Force Base.

He told Whalen re-enacting can be an expensive hobby, but that it's exciting because it is "hands-on history."

The museum, which is free to the public, is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and is closed on major holidays.

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