MILITARY MATTERS: National Infantry Museum

By Chuck Leonard

FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - When it comes to local attractions, the National Infantry Museum may be the jewel in the crown of Columbus and Fort Benning.

Three-quarters of a million people have visited the museum since the doors opened with fanfare two years ago. Those visitors have come from all corners of the globe.  

Devin and Cathy Martin made their way here from California. They traveled to the region for their son's basic training graduation, but when the ceremony got moved up, the Martins suddenly had an extra day to kill. They chose to spend it at the museum.

Devin's glad they did. "My son said it was awesome. He said I've got to bring you here. So much history here, you know, war history." The exhibits bring home the reality of war, a fact not lost on the parents of a brand new soldier. Cathy says, "It's very emotional to think what these men and women had to endure in life, and I pray for each and every one of them, including our son."

Each artifact has been carefully chosen to represent the price Americans have paid for freedom. A glass encased flag, for instance, takes us back to a late Spring morning on the coast of northern France.

National Infantry Foundation Education Director Matthew Young,  explains its significance. "This is the original flag that was carried up Pointe du Hoc on D-Day, June 6, 1944 by the 2nd Ranger Battalion, as they landed to try to secure the position." The mission succeeded, but by the time it was over, two-thirds of the battalion were either dead or wounded.

Like the Rangers, the National Infantry Museum leads the way in telling the story of war. Not just the modern-day version, but the way it was when the country was beginning.

For instance, the Battle of Yorktown leads off the exhibit known as the The Last 100 Yards.

Every major conflict involving the U.S. is on display. The exhibit concludes with an image that has moved even the strongest to tears, an endless line of soldiers doing what they do.

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