Instructor: Leila Wells Rogers
30, September 2012
On September 13, 2012, I took a trip to Columbus, Georgia to visit my nephew Matrel, who was graduating from Basic Training. After attending the graduation, we visited the National Infantry Museum and Soldier center, which was adjacent to where the graduation had taken place. My first instinct was, this is going to be long and boring, but my perception immediately changed upon entering the museum. The soldiers, helicopters, tanks, and guns all seemed so real. The museum had a vast variety of exhibits ranging from World War I through the sands of Afghanistan, which tells the story of the United States Army Infantryman.
There were many multi-media exhibits that brought the history of our past soldiers to life. For example, in the “Cold War” exhibit, there were voices of actual Vietnam veterans explaining what made our longest war so unique, told in between eruptions of gunfire, explosions, and simulated rainstorms. This exhibit was very intense, displaying artifacts from the frozen mountains of Korea into the tropical jungles of Vietnam. Also, in this exhibit, the voice of President Ronald Reagan announces the necessity of freedom and cooperation in the world. The Cold War exhibit was the most interactive of them all.
The” International Stage” exhibit demonstrates what drove Americans to join the fight between the Spanish-American War and how American soldiers were rushed onto the battlefields of World War I. Another unique exhibit, this exhibit features an actual porthole from the USS Maine. The infantry experience during World War I is interpreted inside the walls of a restored trench. Projectors, illustrations and artifacts were used to tell this story, surrounded by the noise of artillery and tanks passing by. I really enjoyed this exhibit, because it was really interesting and frightening at the same time. I felt like I was right there in the middle of the war, which was so weird.
One of my favorite exhibits is the “Sole Superpower” exhibit. This exhibit explains how the United States emerged as the world’s sole superpower. As you enter the gallery, events of the Gulf War are revealed on a large screen in the center of the room. This exhibit also expresses how the U.S. Army’s mission changed on September 11, 2001. The War on Terror is explained through displays and artifacts, and through the voices of actual soldiers describing their experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. One particular display that caught my attention was life-sized figures of soldiers, kneeling down by their Humvee, carrying a very huge missile. That was one of the best displays in the museum.
Another great exhibit, the “World at War” exhibit, tells the story of World War II and focuses on the Holocaust. This exhibit actually contains the largest display of artifacts at the museum. Here you can see equipment, weapons, jeeps, parachutes, and the actual uniforms associated with WWII. This exhibit also pays tribute to women in factories and the G.I. Bills explains how society was affected beyond the battlefield .Recently added to this exhibit are the unbelievable crimes that over eight million Jews and others suffered during the Holocaust. The visual presentation of the Holocaust was extremely depressing. The heroic actions of the Allied Forces who freed survivors from Nazi concentration camps were also demonstrated.
Although it is not clear who the artists of this museum are, it is evident that their primary goal was to educate us and honor soldiers both past and present. The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center is a museum that displays artistry expertise. Attending my nephews graduation was not only a joyous occasion, but it was also very educational as well. I can only merely explain the artwork that was created to pay homage to our soldiers. It is almost unbelievable to see such masterpieces being revealed.
National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center. Columbus, Georgia.