If you know a Marine, you know exactly how loyal they are to their country, the Corps, and their comrades. The motto of the Marine Corps is Semper Fidelis! (Always Faithful). To learn more about the Marine Corps, you can visit the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia, 36 miles south of Washington, D.C.
Visiting the National Museum of the Marine Corps
The spirited welcome of a US Marine is the perfect greeting for anyone visiting the National Museum of the Marine Corps in the Virginia countryside. When you approach the museum, you’ll be taken with the museum’s physical structure—impressive with the shape evoking dramatic images of the World War II flag-raising at Iwo Jima.
The day I visited, a group of new officer recruits lined up outside the entrance in perfect formation. It made my trip through the front doors all the more poignant.
About the United States Marine Corps
As you listen to the words of the Marine Hymn, “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land, and sea…” you get a sense of the history of the Corps. The USMC history goes back to November 10, 1775, when the Second Continental Congress declared with a resolution that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” to provide services on land in cooperation with the naval fleet.
The Marines served in the Revolutionary War. The Corps was re-established in 1798, fighting against France and even against the Barbary Pirates on the “Shores of Tripoli.” As you tour the museum, you will walk through the history of the conflicts. You will see where the Marines served and understand their roles on the land, sea, and as Marine aviators.
Marine Corps Museum Galleries
The Leatherneck Gallery surrounds you with images of honor, courage, and commitment in the faces and words of the men and women of the U.S. Marine Corps.
The marble-walled gallery features a mast rising through the air, with a Harrier from the historic ‘Tomcats’ Squadron flying overhead. Marines were depicted disembarking from a helicopter on the gallery floor.
The entire museum is just as amazing as that first view. There are ten other amazing galleries to visit.
The Legacy Walk
The Legacy Walk is a walkway connecting the era galleries and providing an overview of Marine Corps history with national and world events.
Making Marines exhibit is a view into what goes on at boot camp.
Defending the New Republic
The Defending the New Republic gallery showcases the first century of the Marine Corps during the American Civil War, the War of 1812, and the Mexican War.
Global Expeditionary Force
Global Expeditionary Force is an exhibit that explains how the Marines work hand in hand with the Navy.
World War I Gallery
The World War I gallery shows how the Marines halted the German advance and ended World War I.
World War II Gallery
The World War II gallery highlights the heroic efforts of Marines on the ground and in the air during World War II.
Korean War Gallery
The Korean War gallery highlights the first US combat action of the Cold War.
Wander through the Vietnam Gallery to explore how the Marine Corps fought in Vietnam from 1965 to 1975.
Combat Art Gallery
You can experience authentic images of life in the Marine Corps through photos and paintings as you explore the Combat Art gallery. The items in this gallery rotate, and many are on loan from other museums.
The Children’s Gallery features child-sized hands-on exhibits that mimic the Museum’s World and U.S. history theme. While designed for those under age 10, all ages are welcome. Museums educators are on duty to help answer questions.
It’s Not Your Typical Museum
This is no ordinary museum with rows of glass-fronted display cases. The National Museum of the Marine Corps is a living testament to our troops that encourages audience interaction. I was in awe, gazing at the first two flags raised on Iwo Jima, and fascinated with the lifelike depictions of Marines in combat.
Final Phase Galleries
The Museum’s 115,000-square-foot “Final Phase” building covers more modern events in the Marine Corps.
The galleries in this phase tell the story of the Marines from 1976 through the attacks on the United States on September 11. Other exhibits will showcase Marine families and the interwar years of 1919-1940. A section will honor Marines in sports, and an exhibit will depict the future of the Marine Corps.
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The Marine Museum Will Move You
But it was the Marines themselves that captured my heart. The human figures, cast in wax, look hauntingly real.
My heart ached when I thought about the young recruits and empathized with the mothers who sent and still send their children to rappel from helicopters and fight. I respect the young people who train to be medics and tend to the dying soldiers in the field.
As I wound my way through the group of new Marine officers visiting that day, I felt proud to be an American. Nothing in the museum has to do with politics. It has everything to do with honor, courage, and commitment. Let Wander With Wonder be your guide as you plan your visit to Virginia, Washington, DC, or another museum.