MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- “There has never yet been a man in our history who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering,” said Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States.
Remembering the Carolinas’ Marines and civilians who sacrificed for their county is a responsibility that will soon fall on the shoulders of the Marine Corps Museum of the Carolinas.
Slated to open late 2009 and located in the Jacksonville Lejeune Memorial Gardens, the museum will display the history of the Marines and the surrounding communities of North and South Carolina from 1941 into the future said Jim M. Williams, retired Marine lieutenant colonel and executive director of the Marine Corps Museum of the Carolinas.
“We will be a non-profit national class museum here to showcase everything the Marines of the Carolinas have done and what they are currently doing,” said Williams.
The preliminary plans display a 40,000 square foot building with two floors consisting of three major exhibit galleries, which will be comprised of 8 - 10 subjects of interest and a great hall, according to Williams.
Museum entry will begin with an orientation movie showing a short history of the Marine Corps in a theater modeled to recreate a beachhead, said Williams.
“It will feel like you’re walking through time,” said Claire Woodward, who is in charge of development and communications for the Marine Corps Museum of the Carolinas.
Many exhibits will show how the Carolinas are home to many Marine Corps first’s – such as the first major training of females, the first basic training of black Marines, aviation milestones, the birthplace of Marine Corps military dogs, as well as the first large scale testing of the amphibious doctrine, said Williams.
“We want to ensure these unique events that happened here, which are inevitably shaping the future, are highlighted,” said Williams. “So many advancements have occurred here.”
Exhibits will also explore the impact of war on the surrounding families, the landowners who gave up their land for the creation of Marine Corps installations and how Marines responded to world campaigns and crises, continued Williams.
“We will make sure that while we are displaying the history, to also show the unit and individual Carolina Marines’ achievements,” emphasized Williams.
The museum will provide an accurate representation of the events using hundreds of pieces such as uniforms, personal letters, a Landing Ship Medium and a Landing Vehicle Tracked Mark 4, said Williams.
As well as providing a comprehensive history, the museum will have a full catering kitchen and operate as a place to hold events such as birthday balls, reunions and conferences, said Williams.
The great hall will be a stunning entrance and will contain more than enough space for any event, explained Woodward.
“This museum will spur economic development through the construction, and when completed, by the estimated 150,000 to 200,000 annual visitors,” said Williams.
Raising more than $4.8 million to date, Williams stressed that this is a reality and that Camp Lejeune leadership has agreed on the use of the land.
“Even though Camp Lejeune signed off on it, we still have to receive final approval from the Navy for the land use,” said Williams. “We expect approval by the end of December when we will have our ground breaking.”
To experience a piece of the museum before it opens, visit the Jacksonville Carmike Theater parking lot Oct. 20 for a display of an LVT-4, which also appears in the motion picture “Flags of Our Fathers,” added Williams.
The Marine Corps Museum of the Carolinas is currently accepting donations, for more information, visit their website at http://www.mcmuseum.com or call 910-937-0033.