If you have driven on interstate 95 going through Triangle, Virginia, you have most likely seen an interestingly shaped building seeming to be made of steel and glass. This teepee shaped monument that sits just outside the Quantico Marine Corps Base is none other than The National Museum of The Marine Corps. The unique shape of the museum’s atrium, which is the aforementioned steel and glass structure of the museum, is modeled after the Marines raising the American Flag on Mount Suribachi in Iwo Jima in 1945.
Upon entering the museum and passing a small security and information corridor, you’re faced with a massive room; stage lights affixed to steel beams, airplanes and fighter jets hanging from the ceiling, and dioramas of tanks and Marine mannequins demand your attention.
There are several small theatres in the museum that show various short films on the history of the Marine Corps and some show stories that commemorate american heroes. The main museum gallery starts with a short exhibit on Marine Corps Boot Camp, giving a glimpse into the crucible of the Corps. There are many exhibits ranging from the conception of the Marine Corps, all the way to The War on Terror.
The first main exhibit begins with the Revolutionary War and shows off cannons and muskets, and elaborates on how the Marine Corps was formed. Then goes through early engagements like the spanish-american war. The next exhibit is World War I, where The Marines boasted fire, fury, and an impressive arsenal of new combat vehicles like armored cars and biplanes. The first combat semi-automatic weapons are showed off here. All important historical technological advances that made the Marine Corps one of the world’s greatest military forces, along with the raging passion to fight for and protect the country and it’s interests that lies in each Marine’s heart.
In the Korean War’s exhibit, there’s a diorama that is a sobering reminder of some of the difficulties that our armed forces have faced. The Battle of Chosin Reservoir, a room that brings you emotionally close to the action. The temperature is turned down, the lights are dim, then all of a sudden, flashes of light, explosions, and the crack of bullets all shock your senses. Tracer bullets appear to fly over the ridge just ahead, then some lights illuminate hyper-realistic mannequins of Marines, some manning guns behind rocks, a pair huddled by a fire, a dusting of snow on their shoulders, another pair, one with a wounded leg, talking on a combat field phone. Audio plays and you hear the Marines talk of the struggles, outmanned, outgunned, ammunition is scarce and what little ammunition there is, is failing. But their spirits are unrelenting, not yet ready to give up.
The exhibits at The National Museum of the Marine Corps go on to show the horrors of the Vietnam War, weapons used by the enemy combatants, and by the Marines. Some more smaller exhibits show some relics from recent wars in the Middle East. At the end of the gallery, there lies pieces of twisted steel girders, and quotes of victims, from the morning of September 11th, 2001. Solemn and sacred reminders of How the Marines have served their country, and why they still stand ready to protect the citizens of the United States, until the day that peace rests upon our country.
The National Museum of The Marine Corps is a wonderful place to come to experience the history of the Corps and the history of the United States, a place to respect fallen Marines and their sacrifice for the Country.
Article and photo credit: B. Edmisten Photography