It has been four years since Duane Lempke, a retired Army colonel, began capturing on film, the progression of building the National Museum of the United States Army. From the first trees being removed in 2015 through photographing the intricate exhibit cases just last week— it has been quite an amazing journey. According to Lempke, the anticipation of what he would see during every visit to the grounds and the progress being made, motivated him on a daily basis. “I’m honored to be involved in this momentous project — truly a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said.
In the beginning, Lempke’s photos were mostly taken by air, with the help of his friend, Steve Bussman, who piloted the helicopter. But, once the exterior of the Museum was finished to the point where building out the interior, and starting construction of the galleries and exhibits began, like a good Soldier, Lempke continued his mission on foot. In doing so, he has been able to bring the Museum to life through his photography by illuminating the rich history, actions and heroism of the American Soldier from 1775 to present day, as he pictorially walks you through each exhibit.
“When you look at Duane’s photos, as he presents them, you become engulfed in the period of the exhibit, and it just feels like you are there … smack in the middle of the action,” said Dr. Ric Talley, AHF Vice President for Development and Public Affairs.
Clearly you can feel Lempke’s passion for the Museum when you talk to him. His work will become as much a part of history, as the Museum itself. Lempke noted, “like every Soldier this has become personal, and as you see through the number of volunteers who have signed up, even the old Soldiers still have a lot we can contribute.”
Like Lempke, we all look forward to opening the doors to the Soldiers, Veterans, family members, civilians and the general public, who have made this dream become a reality through their loyal and motivating financial support.