Memorial Day and Military Museums / by Liz Maurer

Memorial Day honors the sacrifices of men and women who died while serving in the United States military. Military museums and exhibits memorialize veterans’ sacrifices every day. Importantly, they provide context so that the public may better understand and appreciate military service.

For too long, the only people to have direct experience of the Marine Corps have been the marines themselves and the enemy who made the mistake of taking them on. The National Museum of the Marine Corps fixes this problem. In this museum, you will experience life from a Marine’s perspective. In this museum, you’ll feel what it’s like to go through boot camp, . . . make an amphibious landing under fire, or deploy from a helicopter in Vietnam.

The museum will not make you into a Marine—only a drill instructor can do that—but by putting you in the boots of a Marine, this museum will leave you with an appreciation of the rich history of the Corps and the pride that comes with earning the title United States Marine.
— President George W. Bush, November 10, 2006 speaking at the National Marine Cops Museum Dedication
National Museum of the Marine Corps. Photo by JayRosenblatt.com

National Museum of the Marine Corps. Photo by JayRosenblatt.com

Military museums and exhibits serve as a rallying point for the veterans of the particular branch in which they served as well as their families. Veterans and current service members regularly take their families to “their” museums where they share their experiences as members of the armed forces in training and on duty.

National Museum of the United States Navy. Courtesy of the Navy Historical Foundation

National Museum of the United States Navy. Courtesy of the Navy Historical Foundation

The Naval Historical Foundation is dedicated to preserving and honoring the legacy of those who came before us.
— Naval Historical Foundation, operator of the National Museum of the United States Navy

Long after the conflict, military museums and exhibits encourage visitors to reflect on the ideals that led men and women to service and the great sacrifices that service entailed.   

“Price of Freedom: Americans at War,” Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History. Fragment of World Trade Center buildings.

“Price of Freedom: Americans at War,” Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History. Fragment of World Trade Center buildings.

 
The museum encourages its visitors to connect with those who lived through the Revolutionary era and to consider the legacy of the ideas for which the war was fought.
— Timothy B. Wheeler, June 22, 2017 for the Bay Journal
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Photo by JayRosenblatt.com

American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Photo by JayRosenblatt.com

While Memorial Day may kick off of summer vacation, the holiday’s original meaning remains important. The United States was born through sacrifice. This Memorial Day, visit a military museum to better understand the military experience and the central role it has played in our national life.