The National Medal of Honor Museum at Charleston Harbor
The Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military honor, is awarded by the President, in the name of Congress, to U.S. military personnel for “Conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty.”
By Sully Witte
More than 3,400 men and one woman will be memorialized in Mount Pleasant in the coming years as the new National Medal of Honor Museum at Patriots Point rises above Charleston Harbor.
It will be the only museum in the country that brings together the story of the nation’s highest military honor, all of its recipients and the wars in which they fought.
State House Speaker Bobby Harrell is honoring plans to build the Medal of Honor museum.
Harrell gave medal recipient Marine Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston a copy of a resolution supporting the museum planned for the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum on Charleston Harbor.
The resolution says South Carolina will be honored to have a museum to honor the recipients of the nation’s highest award for valor.
Livingston received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam in 1968. He is from South Carolina and is on the foundation organizing the museum.
The Budget and Control Board approved a 99-year lease at $1 a year for the new museum on May 8.
The museum will serve as a permanent place of honor and recognition for those 3,457 service men and one woman who have received the highest levels of recognition, “above and beyond the call of duty,” in service to the nation.
In March 2013 the nation marked the 150th anniversary of this country’s highest military honor. All 50 states and the District of Columbia are represented among the 3,457 service men – and one woman – who have received the Medal of Honor since its inception.
The new National Medal of Honor Museum will be a principal attraction at Patriots Point, preserving and presenting the extraordinary stories of America’s Medal of Honor recipients. Programs and exhibit galleries will help guests understand the meaning and price of freedom and encourage them to embrace their responsibilities as citizens in a democracy.
The addition of a National Medal of Honor Museum is an honor to the region as much as it will prove to be an economic development vehicle.
A master plan
In an effort to make Patriot’s Point a sustainable business entity, - one looked upon as a cultural destination of national importance - the Patriots Point Foundation retained PGAV Destinations to develop a master plan to develop Patriots Point into a nationally prominent cultural destination. PGAV is a St. Louis-based destination planning firm that has advised clients in more than 30 states and on five continents. The master planning process for Patriots Point began in October 2010, and included interviews with stakeholders, benchmarking of similar cultural destinations, the potential for public/private partnerships, consumer research and financial analyses. PGAV recommended that the first step was the creation of a National Medal of Honor Museum, “in an architecturally significant building that uses powerful heroic stories to inspire patriotism and appreciation for all who serve this country.”
The current Medal of Honor Museum is located on the hangar deck of the USS Yorktown. The space no longer suits the demand for the attraction. And in planning for the future, the consultant noted that a national museum would improve the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier Museum experience.
The $100 million, approximately 100,000-square-foot facility will include space for exhibit galleries, a chapel and dedicated classroom, meeting and conference space.
Museum exhibits and programs will be designed to enhance visitors’ understanding of and appreciation for the stories of the Congressional Medal of Honor and Medal of Honor recipients, and the values associated with the medal. Educational programs, on-site and through outreach, will focus on the values and ideals of the Medal of Honor – leadership, sacrifice, patriotism and commitment.
Museum galleries, programs and activities will take advantage of current scholarship, technology and learning techniques and include interactive exhibits, live storytellers and dramatic immersion experiences. Exhibit gallery themes that PGAV recommended for consideration include:
• The Great Hall of Valor – A grand architectural space to honor Medal of Honor recipients and the values associated with the Medal.
• Conversation with a Hero – An innovative immersion media experience where guests can search a database for hero stories and have a virtual conversation in a small, personal setting.
• Freedom Status Center – A state-of-the-art “mission-control-style” interactive media gallery that allows visitors to search for hero stories and learn the status of freedom in the world in real time.
• The Price of Freedom – A unique large format theater using a live presenter, multiple video screens and a powerful audio system to tell the story of values, commitment and the price of protecting freedom in the world.
• Futures Studio – A distance-learning interactive classroom that uses live presenters, interactive media and distance-learning technology to take museum programs and exhibits into classrooms around the country.
• Uniform Collection – A display of military dress brought to life with media and technology will help visitors understand the men and women who wear the uniform as well as the history behind those uniforms.
• The Inspiration Center, featuring state-of-the-art classroom and meeting space, will create a unique setting for students and groups of all ages to understand and appreciate the power of the Medal of Honor story.
The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation is being organized as a non-profit educational institution to design, fund, build and maintain the new facilities. An incorporating board of directors has been named; additional board appointments will reflect the national scope and significance of the project.
Architectural and exhibit design plans, which have yet to be completed, will inform the final cost of the museum. Until the museum foundation’s non-profit status has been approved, the Patriots Point Foundation has established a Limited Liability Corporation to receive funds designated for the new Museum.
Darwin Simpson, chair Patriots Point Development Authority
Carlyle Blakeney, vice chair president, Patriots Point Foundation
Major General James E. Livingston, USMC (Ret.) Medal of Honor Recipient Congressional Medal of Honor Society
Susan Marlowe, Patriots Point Development Authority
George Patton “Pat” Waters, Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation
Robert C. Wilburn, Interim CEO founding president and former CEO, Gettysburg Foundation former president and CEO, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
(The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation board will increase in size, developing into a significant national board as the project progresses).
Congressional Medal of Honor Societyboard of directors
Harold A. Fritz, president
Richard A. Pittman, vice-president
Allen J. Lynch, secretary
Donald E. Ballard, treasurer
Leo K. Thorsness, immediate past president
Thomas G. Kelley, first regional director
Brian M. Thacker, second regional director
John J. McGinty III, third regional director
Patrick H. Brady, fourth regional director
Kenneth E. Stumpf, fifth regional director
James A. Taylor, sixth regional director
National Medal of Honor Museumsteering committee
A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
TO SUPPORT PLANS TO CREATE THE NATIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR MUSEUM ON THE WATERFRONT IN MOUNT PLEASANT, SOUTH CAROLINA, OVERLOOKING THE CITY OF CHARLESTON, WHICH WILL SERVE AS A PERMANENT PLACE OF HONOR AND RECOGNITION FOR THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE BEEN AWARDED THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF RECOGNITION FOR THEIR SACRIFICE AND SERVICE; AS A PLACE TO INSPIRE CURRENT AND FUTURE GENERATIONS ABOUT THE IDEALS OF COURAGE, PATRIOTISM, LEADERSHIP, AND SACRIFICE; TO HELP THEM UNDERSTAND THE MEANING AND PRICE OF FREEDOM; AND TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO EMBRACE THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES AS CITIZENS IN A DEMOCRACY.
Whereas, the nation is commemorating the sesquicentennial of the creation of the Medal of Honor in 2013; and
Whereas, the State of South Carolina is home to a considerable population of military members and families, both active and retired, and recognizes the commitment and sacrifices that they have made and continue to make; and
Whereas, South Carolina welcomes even more active duty or retired military and their families among its millions of annual visitors, many of them drawn to its numerous cultural and historical attractions; and
Whereas, the State of South Carolina cherishes its military heritage and its continued and proud support of our military communities, and the men and women who serve and have served our country in the United States Armed Forces; and
Whereas, the citizens of the State of South Carolina desire to promote the principles and objectives of courage, patriotism, leadership, service, and sacrifice among the people of this State and the nation; and
Whereas, an opportunity exists for the State of South Carolina to promote those principles and at the same time recognize the men and women of the nation’s military who have made the ultimate sacrifice in armed conflicts throughout the nation’s history; and
Whereas, twenty-nine South Carolina residents and another four natives of the State have been awarded the highest level of recognition for their service to our country as members of the United States Armed Forces, the Medal of Honor; and
Whereas, the State of South Carolina is the final resting place for nineteen Medal of Honor recipients; and
Whereas, the State of South Carolina and the Patriots Point Authority have announced their desire to develop a national Medal of Honor Museum to preserve and present the extraordinary stories of individuals who have reached the highest level of recognition in service to the nation; and
Whereas, the public-private partnership that will design, fund, build, and maintain the state-of-the-art facilities for the orientation, comfort, and education of visitors will preserve, protect, and acquire key artifacts and archival materials related to the Medal of Honor and its recipients and help to create a tangible link between visitors and the heroes who have sacrificed for the nation; and
Whereas, the national Medal of Honor Museum will present exhibits, programs, and services designed to engage diverse audiences and enhance their understanding of and appreciation for the stories of the Medal of Honor, of Medal of Honor recipients, and of the values associated with the Medal; and
Whereas, the Museum will raise awareness of and support for the work of the Medal of Honor Society and the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, including its Character Development Program. Education programs, onsite and through outreach, will focus on the values and ideals of the Medal of Honor - courage, patriotism, leadership, and sacrifice; and
Whereas, through an Institute of Leadership, the Museum has the opportunity to combine the legacies of the Medal of Honor and its recipients with the resources of the Museum to help leaders in the business, education, and government communities from across the State and around the nation make decisions that will have a positive impact on their organizations’ success; and
Whereas, changing exhibits, special programs, and seasonal offerings by the Museum will help optimize visitors’ length of stay and encourage repeat visitation, thus helping to ensure the success of Patriots Point as a premier destination; and
Whereas, the national Medal of Honor Museum will be designed to appeal to the broadest possible audience, exciting and inspiring visitors of all ages, learning styles, objectives, and physical abilities. Exhibits, programs, and activities will meet the highest standards for preservation, conservation, and curatorial care of the artifacts, taking full advantage of scholarship, technology, and learning techniques; and
Whereas, the Museum will help visitors make personal and emotional connections to recipients of the Medal of Honor and the events that prompted their sacrifices; and
Whereas, this national Medal of Honor Museum will serve not only as a tribute to the men and women of the nation’s Armed Forces who have served throughout the country’s history, but to the State of South Carolina, which will serve as its permanent host. Now, therefore,
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:
That the members of the South Carolina General Assembly, by this resolution, support plans to create the national Medal of Honor Museum on the waterfront in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, overlooking the City of Charleston, which will serve as a permanent place of honor and recognition for those individuals who have been awarded the highest level of recognition for their sacrifice and service; as a place to inspire current and future generations about the ideals of courage, patriotism, leadership, and sacrifice; to help them understand the meaning and price of freedom; and to encourage them to embrace their responsibilities as citizens in a democracy.