America’s military museums are some of the most prestigious and inspiring museums in the nation. Whether you are planning a trip for veterans or history buffs, these locations are sure to impress and educate any visitor.
National Infantry Museum
Located near Fort Benning, the official training base of the United States Infantry, the National Infantry Museum commemorates the triumphs and sacrifices of America’s foot soldiers throughout history. Visitors can trace the footsteps of these brave individuals in the “Last 100 Yards” exhibit, from the Army Rangers who scaled Pointe du Hoc on D-Day to the paratroopers who dropped into the Philippines during the Recapture of Corregidor.
After touring the nation for more than 20 years, the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall has finally taken residence at the National Infantry Museum, joining three other memorials in the Vietnam Memorial Plaza. The Wall is a replica of the monument in Washington, D.C., and carries the engraved names of more than 58,000 Vietnam War heroes.
In the Cold War gallery, groups can experience one of the museum’s most interactive exhibits: a Vietnam War jungle display where the voices of real Vietnam War veterans recount their stories while simulated gunfire, explosions and rainstorms sound in the background. “Uncovering the Holocaust,” a special World War II exhibit, recognizes the plight of 8 million Jews in Europe, the soldiers who fought to liberate the Nazi concentration camps and the women who led the workforce back in the States.
Groups can enjoy a savory snack of Infantry Chili Cheese Fries or Big Benning Burgers in the Fife and Drum restaurant, or stop by the museum’s big-screen theater to see a 3-D documentary or feature film.
National World War I Museum and Memorial
Kansas City, Missouri
Groups will learn why the first Great War was not the last at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, which has one of the most comprehensive collections of World War I artifacts and documents in the world.
The museum brings in new exhibitions every year, so returning visitors will always find something fresh to experience. One of the latest displays is a photography collection by Michael St Maur Sheil, who spent almost a decade documenting the sites of World War I battles.
“Nearly 100 years after the war, you can still see remnants of these battle-scarred areas,” said Mike Vietti, director of marketing and communications. “Trenches, artillery shells and bullet casings still litter the ground. It’s very striking and moving.”
The “Posters as Munitions” exhibit explores the way France, Germany, Italy, the United States, Great Britain and other countries used posters as a propaganda tool. Another new exhibit, “Vive L’Amérique,” has drawings and essays from 1917 French schoolchildren who were asked to articulate how they felt about the Americans joining the war effort.
“The symbolism and imagery is absolutely fantastic, the way they were able to express these challenging emotions,” said Vietti.
Other highlights include life-size trenches; a Renault FT-17 tank; a 450-foot-long cyclorama painting; and a glass bridge over 9,000 red poppies, which commemorate the 9 million lives lost during the war.