Over 85 members of the Army Historical Foundation’s (AHF’s) The 1814 Society from nine states and the District of Columbia gathered on October 27 near Fort Belvoir, Va. for an update on the future National Museum of the United States Army (NMUSA) and a tour of ongoing construction on the Museum site.
General Gordon R. Sullivan (USARet.), AHF’s Chairman, welcomed the group and thanked them for their continuing support of the Museum project. “As members of this Society, you’re among our most generous and devoted individual donors, having directly contributed $3.9 million to the project to date.… That’s powerful,” Sullivan continued, “and you can all take great pride in helping to create this national landmark and American treasure.”
Sullivan added that he wanted the group to walk the ground and see just how far their support has helped advance construction of the Museum project. “You’ll also have the unique opportunity to sign a structural steel beam as a proud supporter of the Museum, he said. “It’s one of the special ways we have of showing our appreciation for what you’re doing.”
Sullivan was followed by Ms. Tammy Call, National Army Museum Director and event guest speaker, who began with a short video showcasing a virtual tour of the future Museum to give guests an idea of the many exhibits and galleries that await Museum visitors when it opens in 2019. Call, who joined the Museum project three years ago, then recapped the coordinated plans and actions by her office, AHF, and the Department of the Army that led to groundbreaking, site preparation, and current construction milestones.
Call’s overview also provided guests with information on the Museum’s three main galleries (Soldiers’ Stories Gallery, Fighting for the Nation Galleries, and Army and Society Gallery) and other key Museum features, to include the Army Theater, Army Art and Special Exhibition Gallery, Experiential Learning Center, Veterans’ Hall, and the Medal of Honor Garden.
Society members had an opportunity to ask questions of Ms. Call and Dr. Patrick Jennings, the Museum’s Director of Programs and Education and himself a society member, before moving to the active construction site where Mr. Charles Clatterbuck, Clark Construction Group’s Senior Project Manager, led the tour that allowed Society members to view construction progress firsthand. The tour guests, dressed in protective equipment required on the construction site, first walked toward the Museum along the route of the future Path of Remembrance, which will be paved with the commemorative bricks purchased to honor Army members, past and present.
In what will be the Lobby, members were shown where the colored glass battle streamers that The 1814 Society has opted to sponsor will hang from the ceiling to commemorate the eleven major wars and 190 campaigns the Army has conducted from the Revolutionary War to the present. Other sights included the areas where four of the Museum’s macro artifacts have already been placed under protective coverings while construction continues. The FT-17 Renault tank (“5 of Hearts”) known to have been used by an American crew during WW I, the WW II Sherman tank (“Cobra King”) that broke the siege at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, one of the few remaining Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) vessels known to have carried troops to Normandy on D-Day, and the Bradley Calvary Fighting Vehicle that led the charge from Kuwait to Baghdad in 2003 were pre-positioned in late summer due to their size and weight.
The event concluded with guests signing the last steel beam scheduled to be placed on November 17 at the topmost point of the Museum’s construction. “General Sullivan’s and Tammy Call’s presentations and subsequent tour of the site made this the best of the twelve annual meetings of The 1814 Society we’ve had,” said Brigadier General Creighton W. Abrams, Jr. (USA-Ret.), AHF’s Executive Director. “Our members were effusive in their praise, and especially the out-of-towners, who came from places
as far as Georgia and Utah, were saying, ‘definitely worth the trip’.”