A few months ago, I decided to visit and get a feel for its mission, facilities and get a taste of its history. Colonel Joseph Murray gave me an excellent guided tour, lunch in a brand new chow hall (that's what they call dining facilities) and his staff encouraged me to visit the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The day after Thanksgiving I headed 40 minutes south with the kids to check it out. It was a fascinating trip.
The museum opened ten years ago in November, 2006 and you have probably seen it rising over the trees as you drive up and down I-95.
|Entrance to National Museum of the Marine Corps|
It features exhibits about the invasions I had not thought about since AP History in high school such as our invasion of Lybia (1801) (then-called the Barbary States), the defense of Bladensburg (1814), American's repeated invasions of Mexico (1848), and the Marine Corps role at Harper's Ferry (Led by J.E.B. Stuart) (1859). After walking the exhibits, you start to realize how long America has been invading other countries.
When I was in college, a high school friend who had enlisted in R.O.T.C. told me that war is just an extension of politics. The displays really brought that home for me. Whenever the United States is flexing its muscles abroad, the Marines are often front and center carrying out the directives.
|Atrium at National Museum of Marine Corps|
|M50 Ontos Anti-Tank Vehicle|
Each significant incursion has its own display and a board summarizing the casualty count at the conclusion to honor those who sacrificed.
|Exhibit Panel on Iwo Jima|
Another display focused on the struggles of African Americans to join the Marine Corps and then participate. The exhibit led with the quote by the Commandant of the Marine Corps in 1941 when he said "If it were a question of having a Marine Corps of 5,000 whites or 250,000 Negroes, I would rather have the whites." Remember, this was not some Lieutenant - this was the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The exhibit goes on to talk about the contributions of African Americans within the corps which ultimate led to several Medal of Honor recipients. There is a similar exhibit depicting the contributions of women starting in World War II.
|McDonnell-Douglas A-4 Skyhawk|
The Museum is as much a history of United States Military foreign policy as it is about the U.S. Marine Corps, and it really helps to reinforce the blood, sweat, tears bravery and professionalism that lies at the heart of the Corps.
It is a hidden gem in Northern Virginia and if you have a free day, you should take the time to learn about the history of the Corps and our country.