COLUMBUS, Ohio — Warren Motts has always been a storyteller at heart.
He was a military photographer and served until 1968 with the 37th Infantry Division, then owned his own business for more than two decades.
Since 1987, Motts has poured his heart and soul into a museum that bares his name, collecting and receiving donations from historical events ranging from 1776 to Sept. 11, 2001.
“I was starting to collect this stuff in the 60s, and I ended up getting that sword when I was a medical photographer at the Ohio State University hospital. It was the very first thing and it inspired me to get these artifacts. And when you find things like this and you’re holding it, you realize it belonged to a real person who fought for our freedom,” said Motts.
From their home in the early days to the current location since 1999, Mott’s Military Museum has always been a family business at heart.
Warren’s daughter Lori, who is the Museum’s assistant director, said she’s been fortunate to be surrounded and encouraged by veterans her entire life.
“They’ve actually formed and shaped me. The prisoners of war, I mean we had Christmas parties with those guys every year at my house. I do feel lucky to be able to do what I’m doing here with dad because it’s hard work, and dad works 24 hours a day, but it’s his labor of love,” said Lori.
At 80-years-old, Motts said he’s far from saying mission accomplished.
Several years ago, he was able to acquire a fire truck, police car and concrete slab from one of the Twin Towers, artifacts of Sept. 11, 2001.
His hope is to raise $5 million and build the second largest 9/11 exhibit in the country, only rivaled by the Ground Zero exhibit in New York City.
“When I lost my wife, I thought that was it. But I had to do this for her because she loved this whole thing and there’s so much going on that it gives me purpose, and I got to get this done,” said Motts.
Whether it’s his 5,000+ square feet of memorabilia, photographs, planes and memorials, Motts said he just wants all visitorw, no matter the generation, to appreciate history and the sacrifices of those who have come before us.
“Those who have preserved our freedom, and a lot of them who never came back. And when I get the veterans in here, it makes them feel really good to because somebody cares,” said Motts.
If you would like to donate to the 9/11 memorial fund, click here.