September 9, 2019
In the Army’s new museum, the soldiers look alive and the battle scenes are all too realHistorians in the News
tags: World War I, Fort Belvoir, US Army. National Museum of the US Army
It is the fall of 1918 in the new National Museum of the U.S. Army. And experts are re-creating a scene from the Meuse-Argonne offensive in France, which helped end World War I in defeat for Germany and victory for the U.S. and allied forces.
The handless American — Soldier No. 14 — is gently placed in the shell hole, near blasted tree trunks and an abandoned German howitzer.
He’ll get his helmet, his machine gun and his hands back later.
Inside this gleaming new museum, scheduled to open next spring at Fort Belvoir, Va., time is growing short.
The $400 million steel-and-glass facility, about 20 miles south of Washington, will be the Army’s flagship museum when it opens on June 4, on Liberty Drive off the Fairfax County Parkway.
It has already selected 1,300 “micro” artifacts and 19 “macro” artifacts — including a famous World War II Sherman tank from the Battle of the Bulge and a Bradley Fighting Vehicle from the wars in Iraq — for inclusion. The latter two are already in place.
Among the most moving artifacts is the wreckage of an engine from “Super 6-1,” the first helicopter shot down in the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” disaster in Somalia in which 18 Americans were killed.
And among the most striking exhibits will be several “immersion” tableaux, which seek to place the visitor with the soldiers, amid the sights and sounds of combat.
Over several days last month, curators moved many of the specially cast soldier figures from the base at Fort Belvoir to the museum to be installed.
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