Sunday, October 2, 2011

National Infantry Museum

September 2011

On Saturday, September 10th, 2011 the Meriwether Historical Society traveled to Columbus to the National Infantry Museum on the outskirts of Fort Benning, home of the Infantry. Opening in 2009, the entrance to the grounds of the 190,000 square foot museum and its impressive atrium were breath taking.
   The museum is imposing and meaningful from the entrance throughout. Its centered entry reminded the group of the Jefferson Memorial, having a columned rotunda and dome with such a wonderful expanse of physical space that you never feel crowded. Featured beneath the dome is a dramatic sculpture depicting the infantry motto, "Follow Me": A soldier in full combat WW-II uniform dashing ahead, shouting (the motto, no doubt) with right hand pointing ahead, the left carrying his rifle.
    Members were impressed with the docents who welcomed and helped us along. They seemed really to enjoy being there, wished us the same, and
 were "on fire" in their desire to impart with passion their knowledge of the various wars represented.
    All felt that "The Last Hundred Yards" was the most impressive exhibit. The museum's signature exhibit unfolds scenes from eight wars in our country’s infantry history, and it features figures cast from real soldiers. The title defines the infantry`s job: taking the last hundred yards in battle. Here visitors walk through realistic dioramas representing scenes from all U.S. wars. Each has a well-placed video making it come alive and each showing uniformed infantrymen of the period. The 
high tech visuals of sight and sound immersed the viewer into feeling he or she were there at the front-lines.
    After lunch at the Fife and Drum, the excellent restaurant in the museum, the group spread out to some of the many rooms honoring different periods in our national history. Every detail in this fine museum is carried out to perfection.
   Centered on the gallery level is the Hall of Honor. It has walls of glass through which rows of soldiers’ photographs can be seen with each being an Infantry Medal of Honor recipient. Because the Infantry receives more fatalities than any other branch of service, it has the most recipients of this high honor.
   Some of the group also visited Heritage Walk which connects the museum with the parade field. It is lined with the flags of all the states rising above rows of polished granite pavers donated by families to commemorate their heroes.
  The trip was an unforgettable experience for the members and highly recommended by our local patriots and lovers of history. The next meeting of the Meriwether Historical Society will be Sunday, October 30th, and will feature author Dot Moore who enthralled the community on her last visit with her book Oracle of the Ages or the stories about Mayhayley Lancaster.  Moore has recently published No Remorse: The Rise and Fall of John Wallace. The program will not be held at the historical society headquarters but possibly at the Meriwether Courthouse to accommodate the expected crowd.

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