Both were prisoners of war, and Kernan says there is a connection in how they view their time leading the state and protecting the country.
"We have a responsibility that can be fulfilled in a thousand different ways to preserve and protect certainly our country, but as well, to be doing the same kinds of things for our communities and the places that we call home," he said.
Gov. Kernan was a Naval Flight Officer and one of the items on display at the new exhibit is a painting of the aircraft he was on that was shot down over Vietnam.
"(My wife) Maggie would never let me hang it in the house because it brought back bad memories for her. So we ended up donating the painting to have it here," said Kernan. "It just reminds her and my family of some bad days she went through when I got shot down."
The state’s 48th governor is an avid baseball fan and says having an exhibit for him is an honor that came out of left field.
"I had no idea and never any idea that I would ever be asked to be a part of the museum," he said. "It is hard to put into words, but I am humbled by having this happen."
Whitcomb served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and later as the state’s 43rd governor.
"They served in different military branches and certainly had different political party ideals, but they were both defined by uniting people," said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. "They united people from different backgrounds, advocating for common sense government reform, increase efficiency in the public sector, and clearly bringing business to the state of Indiana."
"They are both an inspiration to us. They have done such good work over such a long period of time. They really do inspire the next generation of leaders."
During a ceremony for the two men, current Gov. Mike Pence told them their work personifies the Hoosier spirit.
"Years and years from now your contribution and your inspiration will go forward," said Pence. "As young Hoosiers pass through these hallways and think of how they might serve their nation and their state by your example."