RUSTON, La. (KSLA) - The sound may be easily mistaken as wind chimes, but the sound of dog tags swaying in the breeze fills the air on Tuesday morning.
There’s a new memorial garden in Ruston — it’s something Ed Shell’s been working on for a while. The idea crossed his mind after a trip to Boston with his wife three years ago.
“We came upon a memorial very similar to this," he said. "(It) had the post and the chains and it was very impressive. It was quite moving to see that many tags hanging.”
So when Shell came home he and his friend Randy Fallin decided they wanted to create something similar outside of the North Louisiana Military Museum.
“Instead of having blank tags we wanted more personal, and instead of being specific to a conflict we wanted it to be all-encompassing," he said.
They presented their idea to their local Kiwanis club and soon the garden came to life. The Kiwanis Club of Ruston spent $7,000 and formally dedicated it on Veterans Day in 2019.
There are over 550 dog tags of veterans who are living, currently serving, those who died in action, or who those became missing or prisoners of war. There’s also K-9 officers and even a war horse recognized too.
Shell who also spent seven years serving in the National Guard believes this garden can be a peaceful and historical place for the Ruston community.
“It is teaching children about what the past was and what to expect, and what they should think about it," he said.
With more plans in the works, Shell hopes more people will purchase a dog tag or just stop by to hear the sound of history.
“Just pass the word," he said. "Let people know this is a good thing and it’s really doing a good thing for the people that have given so much that we might live free.”
Shell is hoping to add a computer to the museum so that people can search for dog tags. He’s also wanting to create a database of all the tags for people to view on the North Louisiana Military Museum’s website.
Dog tags are only $10 to purchase and all the money goes back into the North Louisiana Military Museum.
You can access the form to create a dog tag here, and then mail your form with your payment to the museum’s address at 201 Memorial Drive, Ruston, LA 71270.
You can also call the museum if you have any questions at 318-251-5099.