Over 180 Army Historical Foundation (AHF) members and National Museum of the United States Army supporters attended the 2013 Annual Members’ Meeting and Awards Dinner at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va. on May 22.
The evening’s business meeting and dinner were preceded by an optional late afternoon tour of Fort Ward, the best preserved example of the Union forts and batteries built to protect Washington, DC during the Civil War.
MG John P. Herrling (USA-Ret.), Executive Director for the Capital Campaign, welcomed attendees and presented the Foundation’s annual report, announced recipients of five 2013 Museum Grants and nine winners of 2012 Distinguished Writing Awards, and updated the audience on progress of the Museum.
Herrling reported that the Museum’s architectural and exhibit design teams had both reached 95% completion and said that fundraising was progressing despite the sluggish economy and sequestration.
“In the notes I prepared this morning I planned to tell you that so far the campaign has raised $68 million of the $175 million needed to open the Museum,” Herrling reported. “However, we learned just this afternoon that The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded the Museum a $1 million grant that will be used for the Museum’s Experiential Learning Center. That brings us to $69 million, and we’re extremely grateful to The Coca-Cola Foundation for its generous support.”
Mantegna, recipient of AHF’s 2013 President’s Award, explained that his appreciation for every American’s military service prompted him to accept his role in the Capital Campaign. “In Hollywood there’s a street of stars with the names of men and women who have spent their lives portraying heroes. In Washington, D.C. there’s a wall of names of men and women who gave up their lives being heroes,” Mantegna noted, adding, “I may be an actor by trade, but I’m here tonight because I believe in the National Army Museum. It’s a privilege and an honor to be chosen for this important role with the Museum campaign.” he added.
Atkinson, a former staff writer and senior editor for The Washington Post, conducted a pre-meeting book signing for AHF members and later read from and discussed his newly published The Guns at Last Light: The War in Europe, 1944-1945, a narrative history covering U.S. military operations from Normandy to Berlin. The book is the final volume in Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy, which includes his Pulitzer Prize-winning An Army at Dawn, The War in Africa, 1942-1943, and his critically acclaimed The Day of Battle, The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1945.
Guests were also given a preview of a special video series of Soldiers’ stories being produced for AHF by The Boeing Company, sponsors of the Museum’s Soldiers’ Stories Gallery. The series features ten Soldiers selected from AHF’s Registry of the American Soldier who discuss their service histories, Army core values, and the importance of the National Museum of the United States Army to veterans and the American public.
“This was my first Annual Meeting and I thought the Foundation did an excellent job. I think the audience really appreciated Mantegna’s sincerity as national spokesperson and Atkinson’s presentation was packed with amazing historical facts,” said Meaghan Buckley of Bellingham, Mass. “Mantegna’s comments were emotionally charged,” added LTC Clayton Newell (USA-Ret.) of Galena, Md., and Atkinson tempered a thoughtful and sobering look at the human cost of World War II with lighter, little known anecdotes about the Army during the war.”