"No Veteran will ever be forgotten."
These words were spoken by our founder, Eric Scott and echoed by his wife, Cleo at the establishment of what has become the Veterans National Memorial Shrine & Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Eric Scott was only 18 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was mustered in and spent six weeks in training. His assignment was to the Third Infantry Division, Sixth Combat Engineers in France.
While suffering through the trench warfare at the Battle of Marne, July 15 - 18, 1918, with many dead and wounded around him, Scott made a promise to God that if he made it through this war, “No veteran will ever be forgotten.”
He lived. And he lived up to his promise.
After the war, Eric spent many years working as a mason. In 1945, the Scotts bought the 40 acres at the corner of Yellow River and O’Day roads that would become today’s memorial and museum. By 1952 they had opened their doors for reunions with Eric’s combat brothers from the Sixth.
It was Scott’s unit that came first with donations of memorabilia and the collection grew from those initial gifts. So dedicated were the Scotts and survivors of the Sixth that the Scott’s residence became known as the official headquarters of the unit.
Scott continued to be heavily involved in veterans affairs and his wife, Cleo, supported the mission and the Memorial Shrine while volunteering at the Fort Wayne VA. To both Eric and Cleo, honoring and remembering was a personal matter.
At the time, Scott said, “You can be the biggest person on earth, but how long are you remembered? At the Memorial Shrine we rekindle memories of the sacrifices in a place of honor for all veterans.”
The first project by the Scotts was a memorial chapel featuring a 25 bell carillon. The original bells were dedicated in July of 1976 by Gov. Otis Bowen. From 1976 to 1996 the bells pealed with military and patriotic tributes. As of late 2019 funding for a new and up-to-date digital replacement was moving forward.
As the property developed and more donations came in, the Scotts planned for an expansion. Eric, who had built the couple’s home, designed and built a meeting room for reunions and other veteran related events.
After a series of small deeded parcels, the Scotts donated the land and site in its entirety to the present care takers, the Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum and its board.
So dedicated were Eric and Cleo, that upon his death on April 13, 1981, his services were held at the memorial site. Cleo remained steadfast in her devotion and work for the memorial site until her death on September 12, 1981.