The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center at Patriot Park celebrated its Grand Opening June 19, 2009. It is located in Columbus, Georgia, just outside the gates of Fort Benning, the Home of the Infantry and one of the Army’s largest installations.
This world-class tribute to Infantrymen past, present and future, is the first of its kind in the United States. Throughout the 190,000-square-foot museum, visitors will take an interactive journey through every war fought by the U.S. over the past two centuries.
The museum tells the heroic story of everyday Infantrymen through an enviable collection of more than 30,000 artifacts. Era galleries trace Infantry history from before the Revolutionary War to action today in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a special gallery recognizing Medal of Honor recipients and one that pays tribute to those who love an Infantryman, and the sacrifices they make supporting him.
Soldier Center offers visitors more than an education in military history. There is an IMAX Theatre, full service restaurant and gift store. Patriot Park includes a parade field for Fort Benning Infantry School graduations, a memorial walk of honor and an authentically recreated World War II Company Street.
The National Infantry Museum contains one of the largest collections of military art and artifacts, and follows the steps of the American Infantryman soldier across two centuries of courage and determination.
The National Infantry Museum, established at the Home of the U.S. Infantry in 1959 at Fort Benning, Georgia, has just one mission: to honor the Infantryman and his more than two centuries of proud service to the nation.
The museum offers visitors 30,000 square feet of exhibit space within an impressive historic masonry building that features large, well-lit, carpeted galleries. The climate-controlled building is accessible to those using wheelchairs. An elevator serves all four floors of the museum.
Over 100,000 visitors each year proudly trace the footsteps of Infantrymen from the 1607 wilderness of Virginia to the 1991 sands of the Persian Gulf, from the French Charleville flintlock musket to the atomic Davy Crockett, from victory at Yorktown to events in Vietnam.
Visitors are exposed to an ever-changing kaleidoscope of edged weapons, uniforms, footwear, mess equipment, fine oil paintings, firearms, bronzes, helmets, and vehicles ranging from a 1902 Studebaker Utility Wagon to the legendary Jeep. Family members with different tastes will soon discover that the museum is much more than a collection of things painted Army green.
Around the next corner you may see a petrified tree, an 1825 coverlet, a bronze by Davidson or Fraser, a document signed by John Hancock, George Washington or Franklin D. Roosevelt, a bust of Adolph Hitler, a gas mask for a horse, a Medal of Honor, a French tapestry, an M-1 Garand, Springfield musket or M-16 rifle. You might see an 1840 Chickering piano, a prisoner of war uniform, a set of Civil War dominos, playing cards, a painted eagle drum or a bugle. The museum shows not only the weapons, uniforms and personal equipment of U.S. Infantrymen, but also that of the enemies who chose to test our resolve.
The museum also contains a 100-seat auditorium where a variety of films are shown daily; a gallery of military art which may be featuring sterling silver, oriental pottery or a collection of turn-of-the-century newspapers; a gift shop which offers art prints, books, pewter and crystal as well as model soldiers, T-shirts and jewelry; or a gallery which recalls the Civil War that pit brother against brother is just some of the adventure that awaits you at the National Infantry Museum.
When your child leaves school, he may remember that Gen. George Washington led our nation’s first soldiers into battle. And he may recall that Gen. George Patton was both hated and revered for his successes in World War II. But does he know the stories of John Thorsen, Ola Lee Mize or Bobbie Brown, the privates and sergeants and captains who risked their lives in the name of duty? Did he learn about their wives and young babies who waited patiently back home, shrinking in fear each time the doorbell rang?
These are just a few of the stories of sacrifice and courage that make up the history of the United States Infantry.