Are you looking for something to do for an entire day? Gonna be on the east coast? Go visit the National Museum of the Marine Corps in the town of Triangle, VA. and prepare to be impressed.
A couple of weeks ago after leaving North Carolina and making our way back to Utah, we drove up to Virginia to visit the VA branch of the family. Since they live about 30 minutes away from the museum, Papa Bear, Bear Cub and I along with PB parents, Ma & Pa England, thought it would be a good opportunity for us to go see it.
It was especially fitting considering PB had just retired from the Marine Corps.
We ended up being there for about 6 hours and although we saw a lot of things, we know we didn’t see it all. This place is huge.
The inspiration for the outside design was based off the famous WWII Joe Rosenthal photograph he took of the Marines raising of the flag on Iwo Jima.
And once you step inside…
The collections held in trust at the National Museum of the Marine Corps document over 230 years of Marine Corps history. The mission of the Museum is to collect and preserve in perpetuity, artifacts that reflect and chronicle the history of the Corps. The more than 60,000 uniforms, weapons, vehicles, medals, flags, aircraft, works of art and other artifacts in the Museum’s collections trace the history of the Marine Corps from 1775 to the present. ~The Museum
Once you start walking through the museum, here are just a few of the exhibits you’ll see…
The Korean War-“Known as “the forgotten war,” the battle for Korea was the first US combat action of the Cold War.”
A portion of the Korean War exhibit is displayed in a very air conditioned room to help you better understand just what conditions these Marines were fighting under.
Vietnam-“The United States Marine Corps entered Vietnam in 1965 with two battalions and no idea that this war was to become the longest in Corps’ history.”
As you walk through the tail end of this CH-46 helicopter in the Vietnam exhibit, the noise, the vibration and the heat of the room simulate the conditions of landing in a “hot” zone.
In this display depicting the battle at Hue City, the use of the Ontos Anti-Tank vehicle sure makes a statement.
And all throughout the museum, the use of such life like, “Marines”, make the displays that much more realistic. I couldn’t get over how real this guy looked.
I think one of my favorite displays was that of the flag flown on Mount Suribachi at Iwo Jima. This is actually the second flag flown that day.
The less famous first flag, which the museum does own but doesn’t have out on display, is a bit smaller which is why it was replaced by the second flag.
In order to help preserve the flag, no flash photography is allowed and the area is dimly lit so the picture is a bit dark.
Right across from the flag are these large, glossy black panels use to honor those Marines and Sailors killed on Iwo Jima.
Because the area is so dimly lit and the black panels are mounted on a black wall, the entire tribute is somewhat understated and I’m sure many people respectfully walk past it and continue on.
We probably would have done the same if it hadn’t been for a museum guide who just happen to be there. He told us to take a picture of the panels and use our flash.
By doing so, it’s really the only way to see the “hidden” mural of our men in boats approaching Iwo Jima with Mount Suribachi in the background. Pretty cool, huh?
Something else we all thought was pretty cool was Tun Tavern. If legend is true, the Marine Corps was founded in Tun Tavern in Philadelphia back in 1775.
This is where we had lunch and I think we all agreed that what we each ordered was very good. Plus, the colonial dressed barkeep gave everyone there a short history lesson about the tavern. If the tavern isn’t your thing, the Mess Hall is another food option the museum offers.
I have to admit. When PB first suggested we go visit the Marine Corps Museum, I thought it was going to be a very long and boring day. Boy was I wrong!
This was without a doubt, the best museum I have ever been too, and I’ve been to quite a few. Even if you don’t have a vested interest in the Marine Corps, it’s an amazing history lesson on it’s own.
Plus the best part of it all? It’s free.