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Getting your Army education

The National Museum of the United States Army in Fort Belvoir, Va., makes a big impression.
The stainless steel façade of the National Museum of the United States Army is meant to evoke the strength of the service – while the colors change with the weather to reflect the Army’s ability to overcome adversity.

The stainless steel façade of the National Museum of the United States Army is meant to evoke the strength of the service – while the colors change with the weather to reflect the Army’s ability to overcome adversity.

Despite being the oldest branch of the United States military, the United States Army only saw the construction of its official service-wide museum begin in September 2016. The plan had been for it to open on June 4, 2020, but due to the Covid-19 that was delayed until Nov. 11 of that year.

It was certainly worth the wait, and the National Museum of the United States Army (NMUSA), located at Fort Belvoir, Va., 20 miles south of Washington, D.C. (and just three miles from George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate) now chronicles the history of the service from its founding during the American Revolution to the modern day. The main building, which is approximately 185,000 square feet, features 11 galleries of displays and artifacts from the United States Army Center of Military History.

The National Museum of the United States Army features a number of life-size displays, including this depiction of the Western Front during World War I.

The National Museum of the United States Army features a number of life-size displays, including this depiction of the Western Front during World War I.

The National Museum of the United States Army describes its objectives as:

— Educate and engage current and future generations about the Army and its contributions.

— Preserve the Army’s history and its prominent role in the nation’s past, present, and future.

— Honor Army values, such as patriotism, respect, loyalty, and integrity, while providing an understanding of what it means to serve.

— Pay tribute to 14 generations of American soldiers whose leadership, selfless service, and personal sacrifice have forged and safeguarded our nation.

— Inspire soldiers of today by connecting their experience to the legacy and leadership of a great nation.

— Stimulate the youth of America to pursue scholastic excellence in any field that supports the Army’s core missions.

The museum was designed to be very “hands on” with touchscreens, as well as items for younger (or just young at heart) individuals to touch and interact with. The average visitor could spend two to three hours to walk through the exhibit halls, and likely still wouldn’t see everything. But that’s why there is always the option to come back to visit the museum again!

The museum is located at 1775 Liberty Drive, Fort Belvoir, Va., 22060. The museum will be open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except December 25. Their website is https://www.thenmusa.org/

The “colorful” side of the United States Army can be seen in its historic uniforms, including this Zouave jacket dating back to the American Civil War.

The “colorful” side of the United States Army can be seen in its historic uniforms, including this Zouave jacket dating back to the American Civil War.

A mini-base is included in the museum’s learning center for younger visitors.

A mini-base is included in the museum’s learning center for younger visitors.

A number of displays of current past medals are featured at the museum.

A number of displays of current past medals are featured at the museum.

Though not a “vehicle” museum, the facility does have a number of historically important Army vehicles including this Korean War-era Jeep within its collection.

Though not a “vehicle” museum, the facility does have a number of historically important Army vehicles including this Korean War-era Jeep within its collection.

Even in the era of video monitors and touchscreens, visitors will still be impressed by the museum’s scale dioramas, including this one of a M.A.S.H. camp in Korea.

Even in the era of video monitors and touchscreens, visitors will still be impressed by the museum’s scale dioramas, including this one of a M.A.S.H. camp in Korea.

The collection features an assortment of small arms, including this rare Japanese Type 92 heavy machine gun.

The collection features an assortment of small arms, including this rare Japanese Type 92 heavy machine gun.

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