The Boeing Company presented the National Museum of the United States Army $4 million to design and build the “Soldiers’ Story Gallery” that “sets the tone for the whole museum.”
In a ceremony in Arlington just before the Army’s 235th birthday, Brig. Gen. Creighton Abrams, USA, Ret., executive director of the Army Historical Foundation, said, “We are celebrating the largest gift we have received to date” and also displaying artist’s concepts of what the first of three galleries could look like on the museum site.
The 'Soldiers' Story Gallery' became a reality for the Army Museum due to a $4 million donation from The Boeing Company. Standing with a design rendition are, left to right, Gen. William Hartzog, USA, Ret., president, Army Historical Foundation; Roger Krone, president, and Brig. Gen. Leo Brooks, USA, Ret., Boeing Network and Space Systems; Brig. Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Jr., USA, Ret., executive director, Army Historical Foundation, and Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret..pesident, Association of the U.S. Army
The stories appear on larger-than-life freestanding pylons organized in marching formation on the promenade adjacent to the lobby entrance, and then continues inside.
Each pylon will include a large relief portrait of a soldier, specific information, to include name, rank, branch and date of service and that soldier’s story. At the far end of the gallery, there will be a large, stone-like monolith inscribed with the “Soldier’s Creed.”
Abrams said the stories will be drawn from the 30 million men and women who have served in the Army since its founding June 14, 1775.
Roger Krone, president of the Boeing Network and Space Systems, said, “Every soldier has a story, and that collective set of stories makes up the history of the United States Army and the history of the United States.”
Recalling his father’s service as a bombardier on B-29s in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he said his stories gave him an interest in engineering which became his career and in history and the Army. “The stories will be chosen to reflect the Army’s values” from the Revolutionary War through today.
“At the heart of the museum is the American soldier. We were excited about [this part of the museum project] when we heard about the idea of a soldiers’ gallery. Some of the stories you will recognize; others you will not recognize. But it resonated a lot with us” at Boeing.
“The Army is people,” Brig. Gen. Leo Brooks, USA, Ret., who also works for Boeing Network and Space Systems, said, and cited his father’s more than three decades of Army service. His father’s example “showed me and my brother that the Army offered opportunity” and was an institution “unlike any other” that “encouraged people to be the best they can be.”
He said he views the gallery as a place where museum visitors “can learn from [soldiers’] endeavors and recognize the sacrifice of those men and women and their families for the country.”
Brooks added that it was fitting the stories begin outside the entrance because “every single one is related to a journey” of a man or woman into maturity and finding themselves in “an organization that was bigger than themselves.”
Picking up on that idea, “my father said he grew up in the Army,” who later went on to become a lawyer in Cincinnati, Krone said, following the ceremony.
Gen. William Hartzog, USA, Ret., president of the foundation, said, “We all say to each other that we are going to walk into the place. We have a place [41 acres on Fort Belvoir, Va.], about a third of the design work is done” and about 50 percent of the money needed to build the museum has been raised.
He said about $50 million has been raised so far and expects to raise about $11 million in the coming year through the sale of three commemorative coins. Congress approved the coin sale.
“We hope to get the building started in the next two years and hope to open it before 2015.”
Turning to Krone at the ceremony, he added, “We’re partners now.”
Boeing, which earlier donated $1 million to the museum, became the first corporate contributor to enter the Commander-in-Chief’s Circle of Distinction.
The company was founded in 1917, and its first contract with the Army was signed in 1920 for an attack aircraft.
The Army Historical Foundation, partnering with the Army, is leading the campaign to build the 185,000-square-foot facility.
Foundation officials said they expect between 750,000 and 1 million visitors annually to the museum when it opens.