Dignitaries visit new infantry museum and parade field

By Andrew Wittenberg - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The new multi-million dollar National Infantry Museum may not open officially until June, but for the first time in the 234 year history of the U.S. Army, an infantry soldier graduated from the parade field on the grounds today.

It was dedicated Thursday morning.

Among all the family and friends of the Army's newest soldiers, dozens of special dignitaries were present, honoring those who serve past, present and future.

The names of the battles are forever etched in American history -- Yorktown -- Antietam -- Normandy.

Now, they all have one thing in common with the U.S. Army infantry's newest parade field.

They share the same soil.

Another name etched in American history helped make that possible...Theodore Roosevelt the fourth.

"We look at the country today, and there are a lot of problems with the country we all know about, but one thing we can unite around and be proud of, is the American soldier, whether it's the Navy, or the Air Force, or the Army," Roosevelt said.

George York spread soil from the battlefields of France, where his legendary father, Sergeant Alvin York valiantly fought in World War One.

Soil from every major American war now rests on this parade field, a sacred place for soldiers.

"This is... I never dreamed it would be so big. I'm glad they invited us to come, I would have liked to have been here, even if I had not received an invitation," York said.

Dignitaries, who were on hand for the celebration, say their names are not nearly as important as the names of those who pass on this parade field, as they enter the armed forces.