Director of ACES Veterans Museum in Northwest Philadelphia ensuring all vets are remembered

Friday, May 24, 2024
NW Philly's ACES Veterans Museum ensuring all vets are remembered
The director of ACES Veterans Museum in Philadelphia is making sure all veterans are remembered always.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A. V. Hankins, MD, FACP created the ACES Veterans Museum in 2001 in the same building as her medical practice.

She says the museum's mission is "honoring Black and minority soldiers of World War II and their families."

There are rooms dedicated to honoring the military, civilians, and a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen and the Montford Point Marines.

The museum tells stories not told.

"We're multicultural," says Dr. Hankins.

She has memorabilia highlighting Asian, Hebrew, and Black soldiers. There is also a section on women in the military and the Puerto Rican Borinqueneers.

"That's the story of America," she says. And it's a story she says she's proud to be telling.

Dr. Hankins says she was inspired to share this history after knocking down a wall upstairs and finding Parker Hall on the other side.

"Parker Hall was a functioning USO for Black soldiers during World War II," she says. "And we were certified historical by the city of Philadelphia in March of last year."

Now, she gives educational tours of the museum. She shares that some soldiers started wearing their hats tilted as "an act of defiance" against the racism they faced.

"My father was a decorated special service World War II veteran. He was also Muslim," she says.

She adds that despite living in a time of segregation, he was proud of America's potential, of "what it could be."

"We just have to make it true," she says.

Through her work at the museum, Dr. Hankins has gotten to know many veterans, like Minnetta Metz and Andre Mears.

"I enlisted in 1986 at the Philadelphia Naval Base, but I was stationed in various countries," says Metz, a retired U.S. Navy Veteran.

Her father, Herbert Alexander Metz, also served in the navy, along with other family members. "I'm basically from a Navy family," she says.

Mears served with the United States Army.

"I was drafted in '66," he says. "I served during that time over in Germany."

Now, they help to promote the museum.

"I give a lot of credit to her," says Metz of Dr. Hankins. "She has every culture represented."

Mears says seeing the artifacts and pictures can be "mind blowing," since this history "wasn't taught in school."

Dr. Hankins hopes to generate funding to restore Parker Hall for visitors to see.

"Our motto is: 'Respect the past, nurture the future'," she says. "What these people have given and are giving is priceless."

She says the museum is important to her because, "it's about all of our veterans."

On Saturday, May 25, the ACES Veterans Museum will be holding its 24th Day of Honor event to remember veterans.

For more information, visit

ACES Veterans Museum

5801 Germantown Ave.

Philadelphia, PA 19144