You will find one of the most impactful museums for United States veterans in Columbus, Ohio. As the only museum in the country dedicated to honoring veterans from all branches of service, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum was designed to give a voice to veterans’ true, complex stories. It helps visitors understand personal experiences and also better comprehend the sacrifices that the American veterans and their families have made.
The unusual, attention-grabbing building itself is the start of the story the museum tells. It was designed specifically as a homage to the inner strength of veterans with how the building seems to rise naturally from the ground. The exterior architecture matches the interior design, too, with exhibits lining the curve of the building’s rings.
The museum’s most recent, thought-provoking exhibit is The Twenty-Year War: Our Next Greatest Generation, a temporary exhibit that’s on view at the museum through October 2, 2022. It was inspired and derived from The Twenty Year War, a book that tells the story of 71 servicemen and women who have served their country since September 11, 2001. The book was launched at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum on the 20-year anniversary of 9/11.
Its permanent exhibits tell equally impactful true stories of struggle, victory, and everything in between. In fact, the heart of the museum is really its linear timeline which makes the storytelling all that more memorable. Throughout this timeline, visitors are swept up in a journey through United States history, learning how personal stories have changed and stayed the same for those who serve over the years. Artifacts and images combine throughout the timeline to help bring the stories to life.
Through personal stories, the permanent Legacy of Service exhibit shows how some veterans use the skills they learned and talents they nurtured in the military to serve their communities when they return home.
Also, an important thing that the Legacy of Service exhibit does is empower each visitor to become a more knowledgeable part of the conversation about how we can bridge the gap between veterans and civilians. In addition to offering an immersive educational experience, it offers resources and actionable ways that one can get involved in finding solutions.
The museum stays current and celebrates holidays such as Pride Month. For June 2022, the museum shared how it’s important to honor the contributions of LGBTQIA+ service members and veterans, and it offered a variety of resources for visitors to get involved. The museum also shared the stories of the lived experiences of gay veterans over the years, including U.S. Army Veteran Gilbert Baker who created the first rainbow flag for the gay community.
When visiting the museum, prepare to spend plenty of time in the last part of the experience. As you ascend to the Remembrance Gallery, prepare to be awed the colorful stained-glass display that was inspired by military campaign ribbons. The heart of this area, though, is the display honoring the millions who have died in service to the United States.
The National Veterans Memorial and Museum is located in downtown Columbus, Ohio.